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Harris announces funding for devices and IT for disadvantaged students

Wicklow Fine Gael TD Minister Simon has announced a €10 million fund h to provide technology and devices for disadvantaged students at primary and secondary level.

Minister Harris said:

“Covid 19 has been very challenging for our teachers and students. Everyone is aware of families where both parents may be working from home and having to share a device with their children to allow them access school supports for the duration of schools being shut.

A €10 million fund has now been set up to provide technology and devices for disadvantaged students at primary and secondary level. Schools know their students best. So they are being empowered to support those who most need access to technology, with the right equipment.

Schools are being asked to prioritise exam classes, and then to look at where else access to technology is most needed. I hope this will make a real difference to thousands of students and provide the technology they need to be able to access online supports”.

The measures are part of a number of initiatives taken by the Department to support Wicklow children at risk of educational disadvantage during the period of school closures.

They include:

  • Guidance being issued to all schools to support the ongoing learning of children with special educational needs and children who are at risk of disadvantage.
  • Collaboration with Cisco/WebEX to support schools with training in video conferencing software – for use by teachers with their classes.
  • Guidance and resources developed by the National Council for Special Education on supporting children with special educational needs.
  • Continuation of the School meals programme, funded through the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, to provide food parcels to children who are at risk of food poverty.
  • Continued funding of Home Tuition or, where this is not possible, flexibility to bank hours for use at a later time in the year.
  • Resources to support good mental health and wellbeing amongst students produced by the National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS).
  • €10 million funding package secured as part of the Digital Strategy for Schools ICT Infrastructure Fund.

The Department of Education and Skills is also working with the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment and telecoms companies through industry body Ibec to make a number of relevant websites “zero rated”. This would allow students to access these sites with no data costs.

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