SCHOOL PULLS PLUG ON WI-FI TECHNOLOGY

AS children across the city prepare to head back for the new term, one local school is so concerned about the possible health affects of the Wi-Fi network - a way of connecting computers to the internet with cables - it has decided not to use the system.

The Principal of Ballinderry Primary, Mr Ian Thomson, said he reached his decision, even though the technology has been installed, after a parent approached him sharing her fears that not enough is known about the effects the wireless technology could have on the children and teachers using it.

He explained: "Earlier this year the Department of Education released funds for additional laptops so that the Year 5 children could complete computer based assessments. Part of the deal was the installation of Wi-Fi Technology.

"We experienced difficulties with the new system, connections failed and a lot of teacher time was wasted with initial teething troubles. The teachers persevered and we succeeded in completing the assessments on time.

"It was interesting, when Mrs. Parker, a member of our PTA, approached me with information regarding the possible adverse effects of the radiation produced by Wi-Fi equipment. I was left to ponder if the advantages of Wi-Fi outweighed the risks to the children and staff. I looked at the evidence from both sides and decided not to use Wi-Fi in our school at present."

Local community worker Susan Kyle said that she too is worried.

"As a parent of a child who is beginning school next week I am very concerned about the information I have received from scientific reports and the practices used in other countries on the use of WiFi in schools and its potential affect to children's health.

"With a group of other concerned parents we are seeking further information to ensure our children get the best education in the safest environment possible. There is an alternative - cabling can be used instead of WiFi."

Lagan Valley MP Jeffrey Donaldson said he has a met a number of parents from Lisburn area who are concerned and confused by the conflicting information given on the safety of Wi-Fi technology in schools.

He commented: "I have helped arranged for international experts to come across to Northern Ireland and give a presentation about WI-Fi to MLA's and other interested parties. I will also be contacting the Department of Education to investigate and to provide relevant information to provide an assessment.

"Cabling is an alternative and I think the department should explain why it is not a better alternative to Wi-Fi."