President Barack Obama said Wednesday that the country’s schools need to be equipped with and use 21st century technology.

"We are here to take another step toward making sure that all of our kids get the education that they need in the 21st century," he told a White House conference of educators.

Less than 40 percent of public schools have high-speed Internet in its classrooms and that's not good for the country "since we invented the Internet," Obama said.

But, the president stressed that 99 percent of U.S. students will be using high-speed Internet, no less than 100 Mbps but with a target of 1 Gbps, under a five-year plan he introduced last year.

At the time the plan was announced, the administration said, "fewer than 20 percent of educators say their school’s Internet connection meets their teaching needs" and touted Obama’s plan as working “to close the so-called digital divide."

Aspirations aside, economics is a major challenge to the plan.

A PEW Research Center survey in 2012 found that "teachers of the low income students say lack of access to digital technologies is a major challenge” to incorporating more digital tools into their teaching.

Cecilia Munoz, head of Obama's Domestic Policy Council, said that lawmakers should back the project to develop public school's Internet use, similar to nations such as South Korea that already have all-Internet schools, a big advantage in a global economy.

"Our kids are competing against the rest of the world," Muñoz said.

In a 2012 test of students from 34 Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, or OECD, countries, American students performed below average in mathematics and ranked 27.

Anadolu Agency