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25 May 2022

Longford and Westmeath ETB granted €223,472 to support educationally disadvantaged learners

Longford and Westmeath ETB granted €223,472 to support educationally disadvantaged learners

Longford and Westmeath ETB granted €223,472 to support educationally disadvantaged learners

Longford and Westmeath Education and Training Board (ETB) has been granted €223,472 to support educationally disadvantaged learners in accessing and participating in community education under the Mitigating against Educational Disadvantage Fund (MAEDF).

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The fund was first made available in 2020, and is managed by SOLAS, with over 500 community education projects funded through the 16 Education and Training Boards (ETBs).

The projects funded varied from those designed to help support online learning, connect communities and provide social support to the most disadvantaged.

The Fund has a strong focus on building the digital infrastructure of community education providers, including providing devices and software, and increasing their capacity to deliver online learning.

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris TD said: "In light of the great successes of the Mitigating Against Educational Disadvantage Fund in 2020, where €5.8m was allocated to support community education, and in recognition of the continuing challenges in relation to the ongoing Covid-19 restrictions, I am delighted to announce that a further €6.85 million has been granted under this Fund again this year, comprising over 1,000 initiatives.

“This Fund is specifically designed to tackle educational inequalities which continue to be highlighted by the Covid-19 pandemic, and support access to community education. I would like to thank all the education providers and learners who have engaged with the system - you continue to make a great difference in your communities and your positive work in changing Irish society is to be commended.”

CEO of SOLAS, Andrew Brownlee, said: “When it comes to the transformative power of education, it is often said that those who are left furthest behind must be reached first. The Mitigating Against Educational Disadvantage Fund does just that, by providing much-needed funding at a local level to directly address the causes and outcomes of the most disadvantaged learners in Ireland. The great work done around Ireland by ETBs and community partners, enabled by the MAEDF, tackles adult literacy issues and re-engages learners with education - and provides this support in digital-first ways that meets the complex needs of the learners at hand.

“COVID-19 highlighted significant social issues across our communities, and it’s vital that these issues do not remain with us long-term. Importantly, the MAEDF targets funding on digital infrastructure, which is more needed than ever in post-pandemic Irish society.”

Digital technologies make up 46% of the initiatives, with learning assistance accounting for 22%, COVID-19 recovery exceptional circumstances for 17%, and outreach/mentoring for 15%.

The four categories eligible for consideration under the 2021 MAEDF are:

  1. Digital technologies - Supply of devices where deemed to be a barrier to learning
  2. Learner assistance fund – to help where appropriate with costs
  3. Out-reach and/or Mentoring - to assist with re-engagement with learners
  4. COVID-19 Recovery Exceptional Circumstances

The purpose of the Fund is to assist ETBs to increase their capacity, and that of community education providers, to address the decline in participation of disadvantaged learners particularly those on literacy and basic skills programmes at NFQ levels 1 to 3.

The Fund places a strong focus on community education as a mechanism to continue to support and engage with disadvantaged learners.

In addition, there is a focus on enabling the investment in building the digital infrastructure of providers and their capability to ensure that online learning/blended learning can be delivered in a way that meets the complex needs of learners.

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