Local Fine Gael Councillor, John Dolan, has said special funding for the Longford Westmeath Education and Training Board will help tackle educational disadvantage and equip adult learners will new skills during the present Covid-19 pandemic.
The funding is part of a national allocation of €5.8 million secured by Minister for Further and Higher Education, Simon Harris, TD, under the Mitigating against Education Disadvantage Fund.
“Part of Budget 2021, this new fund will support community education for adult learners and will especially help with online learning which has become increasingly important due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Substantial funding totalling €173,638 allocated to the Longford Westmeath Education and Training Board will help a range of community-based organisations, including Athlone Wheelchair Association and Athlone Family Resource centre, to provide new courses designed for adult learners.
“The fund will help local, community providers, through the tried and tested structures of the Education and Training Boards, to encourage learners to re-engage with education and training and provide the devices and software needed for education during the ongoing public health restrictions,” Cllr Dolan commented.
“We know that too many people in Ireland have difficulties with reading, with numbers or with digital skills. Some people may not have got the help they needed earlier in their lives, but what I want people to know is that there is friendly and non-judgemental help there for you now. There are services all over Ireland which will gladly assist you with the skills you’d like to learn.
“One of the things that the Covid-19 pandemic highlighted was educational inequality, be it a lack of devices like laptops or someone not having the connectivity to study online. The funding I am announcing today is specifically designed to tackle those inequalities and support access to community education,” Minister Simon Harris, speaking on the launch of the Mitigating against Education Disadvantage Fund, remarked.
Concluding, Cllr Dolan commended Minister Harris for securing such essential adult learning funding during pandemic times.
“I commend Minister Harris for securing this funding and enhancing supports for adult learners during Covid-19. By supporting course-providers and by securing equipment, such as laptops and other devices, as well as educational software, we can help encourage people to re-engage with education, gain new skills and grasp new opportunities,” Cllr Dolan stated.
Longford-Westmeath Fianna Fáil Minister of State Robert Troy echoed similar sentiments to those expressed by Councillor Dolan.
“One of the things that the current pandemic has highlighted is educational inequality, be it a lack of adequate devices or lack of connectivity to study online. The funding announced this week is specifically designed to tackle those inequalities and support access to community education throughout the region.
“I am confident that the funding will be of great benefit to many adult learners across Longford Westmeath and will be invested through the right avenues by Longford Westmeath ETB and the service providers” Minister Troy said.
The fund is aimed at supporting and engaging with disadvantaged learners, encouraging and supporting learners to re-engage with education and training and attracting new learners to engage with education and training opportunities.
“Crucially, it aims at helping build the digital infrastructure of providers, and their capability to ensure that online learning can be delivered in a way that meets the complex needs of learners” Minister Troy concluded.