By Jonathan McCambridge, PA
Some €50 million in funding is to be provided to schools to address the digital divide, Minister for Education Norma Foley has announced.
As part of Ireland’s National Recovery and Resilience Plan (NRRP), the money will go towards the first of two major ICT projects supporting primary and post-primary schools.
Schools will be required to use the funding on projects and programmes using digital technologies in teaching and learning and approaches including providing infrastructure such as devices on loan to students.
Ms Foley said: “All of our children and young people must be prepared to learn, work and live in a digital world.
“This scheme builds on existing funding commitments from national funds and will provide for advances in the two important areas of enhanced digital infrastructure for schools and addressing learners at risk of educational disadvantage through the digital divide by providing funding to schools.
“School communities made incredible strides in digital teaching and learning during the pandemic.
“An enormous effort was made by teachers and students, and a huge amount has been learned.
“We know also that for some students a lack of infrastructure impeded their ability to engage with remote learning.
“This digital divide will also impact their capacity to engage fully with digital technology and development of digital skills.”
The minister added: “As we move beyond this phase, we need to acknowledge the great effort and progress made.
“The enhanced investment under the NRRP will advance greatly the efforts to ensure that technology and infrastructure is in place to support teaching and learning in the classroom across all schools and ensure inclusion of all learners.”
The NRRP has been developed by the Government so that Ireland can access funding under the EU’s Recovery and Resilience Facility.
Ireland is expected to receive €988 million in grants under the facility.