€447,801 of funding has been granted by the government to the Laois Offaly Education and Training Board for community education.
This was part of a €5.8 million fund that was announced by Minister for Further and Higher Education Simon Harris under the Mitigating against Educational Disadvantage Fund.
The Fund was secured as part of Budget 2021 to support community education for adult learners, who have the highest level of need.
It aims to increase the participation of disadvantaged learners, particularly with the digital infrastructure including providing devices and software, and increasing their capacity to deliver online learning.
Sean Fleming, Minister of State in the Department of Finance, welcomed the news.
He said: “This fund will help LOETB increase its capacity in providing digital services and additional computers and laptops to help online learning.
“There are many people with reading difficulties and no computer skills in our community.
“This funding will help redress this issue and make sure we have an Ireland For All.”
While Fine Gael’s Charlie Flannagan explained how the money would help disadvantaged learners.
He said: “The funding will help to increase the participation of disadvantaged learners across Laois and Offaly.
“It encourages and supports them to re-engage with education and training and also helps attract new learners to engage with education and training opportunities.
“The fund has a particular focus on assisting learners with digital infrastructure, including providing devices and software, and increasing their capacity to deliver online learning.
“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 all learners.”
While Green Party Minister Pippa Hackett, who is from Geashill, added: “Laois and Offaly ETB is to receive €447,801 for community education, which is very welcome news.
“This funding is designed to reduce the level of educational disadvantage experienced by many adults, particularly those who don’t have the digital skills or infrastructure to avail of online learning.
“Being able to take on a study course during this time of restriction is of great benefit. This funding will help to make that happen.”