Minister for Education Norma Foley TD today (Tuesday 1 June) welcomed the inclusion of a major investment programme for the Department of Education in the Government’s National Recovery and Resilience Plan (NRRP) for approval of the European Council.

The NextGenerationEU funding is Europe’s shared response to the severe health and economic crisis caused by COVID-19. NextGenerationEU is an ambitious and common recovery package which will complement and support each country’s own national response to the crisis.

The objective of the Department of Education programme is to ensure that all learners are equipped with appropriate skills for the digital age. The Department of Education proposal comprises two projects in the Digital area. Project A aims to support high speed broadband connectivity in all primary schools, and Project B to fund interventions to address the digital divide, particularly access to digital devices and relevant ICT infrastructure. The funding sought under EU/NRRP is for investment of €66.5m.

Minister Foley said:

I am very hopeful that this ambitious proposal submitted will allow us to build on existing funding commitments from national funds and make even greater strides 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 and this digital divide will also impact their capacity to engage fully with digital technology and development of digital skills.

As we move beyond this phase, we need to acknowledge the great effort and progress made. The enhanced investment sought 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.

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