6.11 Portugal

In Portugal, the modernization of the educational system has been a priority since 1986, and the introduction of ICTs in education has increasingly been seen as an essential element of that modernization. In 2007, the government defined a comprehensive national ICT plan for education, the Plano Tecnológico de Educação (PTE). This Plan was carefully defined, taking into consideration the EU’s Lisbon Strategy, ICT policy and regulation, and Portugal’s Strategic National Plan.

The e.escola (e.school) Programme was launched the same year (2007) in order to encourage access to the information society and to promote “e-inclusion” through easier access to portable computers and broadband Internet connections. The goals included providing ICT access under favourable financial terms, for all students from the 5th grade of primary school (10-year-old students) through the last year of secondary school.

The e-escolinha programme was also introduced, as another initiative of the e.escola Programme, to enable students enrolled in the first four years of primary school to benefit from the use of computers and broadband Internet access. The e-escolinha programme provided that all children from six to 10 years old – about 500.000 students – could obtain a portable computer for EUR 50, EUR 20, or even for free, depending on the level of social support in their school. 248

In order to ensure the financing of the programme, the Portuguese government utilized resources that had been set aside for the development of the ICT sector. In 2001 and 2002, several companies purchased 3G mobile licences through a spectrum auction that raised EUR 460 million. With the long-term goals of the PTE in mind, Portugal’s government set aside the auction proceeds to fund the nation’s ICT programmes, including the educational technology programmes.

The funds have been used to support many programme elements, including subsidized technology purchases for students and teachers. At the same time, the state developed several partnerships with software and hardware manufacturers to give users access to the latest technology at reasonable prices. As the programme matured however, the Ministry of Education assumed full responsibility for all aspects of e-escolinha, including the financing. The programme is now supported through government funding rather than offset agreements with telecommunication companies. 249

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