Make IT lessons as important as maths and English; Plaid call for rethink of 'failing' schools system.
Byline: TOM BODDEN
PLAID Cymru wants to make IT a core subject in the school curriculum in Wales.
The party unveiled its proposal yesterday as part of its fundamental review of the school structure to cater for modern Wales.
The pledge - 100 days before the Welsh Assembly election in May - also distanced Plaid from its coalition partners Labour on education.
The Assembly Government came under sustained fire from the opposition yesterday after a critical report from schools' inspectors Estyn, which said 30% of schools were falling short on standards.
Chief Inspector Ann Keane revealed 40% of 11 year olds lacked the expected reading skills when moving to high school.
Plaid policy director Nerys Evans said IT skills as a core subject - alongside English, Welsh, maths and science - would create an education system tailored to the needs of a modern Wales.
"IT is now an essential tool and committing to it as a core subject will enable Welsh stu-dents to compete with other nations in the new technologies market. We need to re-prioritise the skills our children need to learn to go out into the 21st century jobs market."
AM Ms Evans admitted the Estyn report was further evidence that the current system was 'failing too many children in Wales' and that root and branch reform is necessary.
"Our children are being let down by a system that is simply not good enough and this cannot be allowed to continue," she said.
"We know that the economy and education go hand in hand, and we, in Plaid Cymru, are determined that the education system is transformed so that future generations are able to fully compete on the global stage."
Welsh Lib Dem leader Kirsty Williams later turned on Labour's Carwyn Jones at First Minister's questions accusing him of complacency over schools.
"It is clear from report after report on education that Labour/Plaid have failed the children of Wales."
The findings in six years of inspections followed an international PISA study showing Wales significantly behind the average in the UK for reading and maths.
Mr Jones said education minister Leighton Andrews would make a statement next week. Some 70% of schools were performing satisfactorily.
"It's not the case that the entire education system in Wales is a basket case. I also have children in primary school. It's not in my interests to be complacent."
The aim was to spread the effective leadership to all schools, he said.
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Plaid Cymru have stressed the need for greater emphasis on IT skills in school to prepare pupils for the modern workplace New priorities... Plaid's Nerys Evans