Minister Flanagan announces multi-million fund to help students in Laois and Offaly and other counties

Conor Ganly

Reporter:

Conor Ganly

Charlie Flanagan

Minister for Justice & Equality Charlie Flanagan

A €10 million fund has been set up to provide technology and devices for disadvantaged students at primary and secondary level during the coronavirus pandemic, according to Laois Offaly TD and Minister for Justice & Equality, Charlie Flanagan. 

Minister Flanagan said the funding will be a huge help to both students and teachers as part of our response to Covid-19.

“Schools across Laois and Offaly 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 am confident this will make a real difference to thousands of students and provide the technology they need to be able to access online supports.

“At this time it is imperative we go further as a society to support more vulnerable young people. By redirecting funding we are focusing our attention on where it is needed, with a priority on Leaving Certificate students. Combined with an emphasis on wellbeing, this funding will help to give students the tools they need to succeed,” said the Fine Gael TD.

The Minister said measures are part of a number of initiatives taken by the Department to support Laois & Offaly children and young people who are 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.

In January the Minister for Education announced the latest round of funding for ICT under the Digital Strategy for Schools. €40m grant funding will be distributed in the coming weeks to eligible schools as previously notified. Today’s announcement includes a top-up scheme which will see €10m issuing to schools in the coming weeks also.