Primary and secondary teachers in Wales will be aided by better internet access for their classes as a result of a new Welsh government initiative.
The new £39 million Learning in Digital Wales grant will see local authorities in the country allocated £27 million of targeted funding with which to upgrade internet connections in their schools.
Moreover, these councils will also able to provide primary and special schools with up to £10,000 and secondary schools with up to £20,000 in order to improve their computing infrastructure and purchase the hardware required to support teaching and learning.
This new scheme follows the launch last month of Hwb, which facilitates sharing of online material between schools and allows teachers and learners aged three-to-19 to access these resources at any time and from any device.
It is hoped that the Learning in Digital Wales grant will give schoolchildren across Wales full access to Hwb, providing them all with an equal educational experience and levelling the playing field for school broadband connectivity.
The funding comes as a response to complaints from numerous Welsh schools about difficulties they had faced in accessing online resources due to poor broadband connections.
Wales' first minister Carwyn Jones remarked: "This investment will ensure that, by 2014, primary and secondary schools in Wales will have access to safe and secure world-class broadband services needed to deliver a world-class digital education.
"The grant funding represents a major step forward in changing the way schools use digital technologies, widening access and driving up standards of performance across the board."
Plaid Cymru education spokesman Simon Thomas welcomed the announcement, stating that investing in school broadband provision was necessary to provide young people with the skills required "to make the future Welsh workforce a global competitor."
Conservative education spokesperson Angela Burns also stressed the importance of good broadband access in schools, especially given that children in Wales' more deprived communities are less likely to have computer access at home.
However, she argued that allocating the funding directly to schools rather than via local authorities would have ensured more money was available for acquiring equipment.
Posted by Tim Colman