New Funding for Schools to Address the Digital Divide

There has been a warm welcome for the 50m in grant funding to Irish schools that was recently announced by Minister Foley.
The funding was secured as part of a major investment programme for the Department of Education in the government’s National Recovery and Resilience Plan (NRRP) approved by the European Council.

Minister for Education Norma 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.”

Under the project announced on the 6th December, funding will be paid directly to all recognised primary and post-primary schools in the free education scheme, to invest in digital infrastructure to support students who are most at risk of educational disadvantage through the digital divide. As part of this measure, schools in the Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools (DEIS) programme will receive double the amount of funding provided to non-DEIS schools.

Schools will be required to use this funding for the direct benefit of their students and can consider innovative projects and programmes using digital technologies in teaching and learning depending on their own digital learning plan, and approaches including providing infrastructure such as devices on loan to students.

Proposed activities/projects include:

At primary level, activities such as those to support numeracy, problem solving and computational thinking, using technology such as robotics, coding etc; activities to support literacy, and curriculum delivery of subjects such as history using digital storytelling. Support for languages through apps such as Duolingo, and Sraith Pictúir.

At post-primary level, support for expansion of capacity and opportunity for STEAM subjects and projects, such as Junior Cycle Short Courses in Coding and Digital Media Literacy; at Senior Cycle for subjects such as Design Communications Graphics, Computer Science, Leaving Cert PE etc.

General STEAM projects and activities using innovative technology such as virtual or augmented reality, and game-based learning.

Support to expand the use of Digital Portfolios, and provide opportunities to develop digital skills.

At post primary-level, support for the CBA process· Digital technology can also support wellbeing activities.

Through the other project for which NRRP funding is being provided, and through the National Broadband Plan Intervention Area implementation and commercial provision, all primary schools will be provided with high-speed broadband connectivity by early 2023.

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