€450,000 Rethink Ireland grant for project tackling digital poverty in schools

28 Sep 2021

Image: © fizkes/Stock.adobe.com

Maynooth University’s Digital Wealth Project is focusing on improving Irish schools’ access to technology.

A collaboration between Maynooth University and Microsoft Education Ireland to improve the digital skills of schoolchildren has been awarded a grant of close to half a million euro.

The Digital Wealth Project has received a Rethink Ireland grant of €450,000. This will enable the two bodies to work together on their school outreach programme addressing digital poverty.

The project aims to increase the digital capacity of 135 schools across Ireland. As part of the programme, the team is partnering with St Kevin’s Community College in Clondalkin, Co Dublin, which has already been identified as a leader in the digital space.

The grant has been awarded as part of the Rethink Ireland Education Innovation Fund 2020-2023. This was announced yesterday (27 September) by non-profit Rethink Ireland, previously the Social Innovation Fund Ireland, with the support of the Department of Rural and Community Development.

The fund will support nine projects that are all focused on improving equal access to education and promoting economic empowerment.

“The Digital Wealth Project is an important research focus for not only communities but also individuals, as it looks to address digital poverty,” explained Dr Katriona O’Sullivan from the psychology department at Maynooth University.

“Through a new framework that reconsiders the supports that schools need to move out of digital poverty, the project aims to ensure that 1000-plus students, 300-plus teachers and 135 schools nationwide have the digital commodities, capabilities, technology and infrastructure to ensure access to the digital world.”

Maynooth University runs a STEM Passport for Inclusion initiative to provide “meaningful support” to 1,000 girls from working-class communities to progress into STEM courses and careers. Through this initiative, the Digital Wealth Project is expected to help provide more education opportunities for students.

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Blathnaid O’Dea is Careers reporter at Silicon Republic