ORGANISERS of Project Infovek, a non-profit organisation of teachers and educational professionals trying to connect every Slovak basic and secondary school to the internet, say the programme is being stunted by inadequate funding.
The state budget for 2002 calls for Sk265 million ($5.5 million) to be spent on the programme. Last year, Infovek received Sk210 million, while in its first year, 1999, it was allocated Sk80 million.
The money is inadequate for the programme to reach its goal of connecting every school to the internet by 2004, said Beata Brestenská, Infovek co-founder and a member of the Ano non-parliamentary political party.
"This year is going to be very hard for us. According to our plans, we want to connect 1,000 schools this year alone, but because of the budget restrictions we will only be able to connect 300," she said.
Less than 500 of the nation's 3,500 basic and secondary schools have thus far been connected to the internet under Infovek.
"Progress is very slow with the money we have, it's just not enough. That's a pity because at this rate we will only be able to connect every school by the year 2010, a full six years after our target of 2004. This is not good for the future of Slovak children," she added.
Brestenská said the Infovek organisers had anticipated a significant increase in state funding this year and were therefore disappointed with the sum of
Sk265 million. She added though that she understood Slovak politicians' interests would lie elsewhere as they focused on the national elections in autumn.
"This is an election year so the politicians are focusing on their party campaigns. This year will be disadvantageous for us because leaders have different priorities right now," she said.
Hoping to boost the project, Infovek is seeking sponsors to donate hardware to schools. In past years, Compaq and Slovenské Telekomunikácie (Slovak Telecom - ST) have contributed.
"We need to find sponsors because we need more money to connect these schools,"said Brestenská.
21. Jan 2002 at 0:00 | Chris Togneri