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A €10 million fund has been set up to provide technology and devices for disadvantaged students at primary and secondary level, a Fine Gael deputy has said.

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

Deputy Emer Higgins said: “Schools in our area 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.”

The measures are part of a number of initiatives taken by the Department to support our 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.

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.

Minister for Education and Skills, Joe McHugh, added: “I believe the tech grants now being issued to schools can help harness the hard work, innovation and creativity being shown by our schools and their students to the greatest extent possible.

“The efforts of our school communities are something to be proud of.”

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Emer Higgins TD Welcomes Funding to Tackle Illegal Dumping During Covid19

Fine Gael TD for Dublin Mid West, Emer Higgins welcomes the announcement from the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Richard Bruton that €1m of funds from the Anti-Dumping Initiative will be ring-fenced to support efforts to tackle a reported increase in illegal dumping during the current Covid 19 crisis.

Waste removal and the installation of CCTV or other monitoring and surveillance equipment will be among the activities supported.

“There has been a noticeable increase in reports of illegal dumping during the Covid crisis. Providing local authorities with advance funding we will ensure that they can respond quickly and decisively” said Higgins.

Since the introduction of the Anti-Dumping Initiative in 2017, funding of €6.3 million has been provided which has supported over 700 projects across all 31 local authorities and removed 10,000 tonnes of illegally dumped waste. This is in addition to the €7.4m annual enforcement grant, which supports the recruitment and retention of 150 local authority waste enforcement personnel across the country.

“I will be strongly advocating that South Dublin County Council receives an adequate portion of this funding to tackle illegal dumping in Lucan, Palmerstown, Clondalkin and our smaller villages” concluded Higgins


Emer Higgins #1

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