Wednesday, 20 May 2020

Questions (156)

Thomas Byrne

Question:

156. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of the provision of ICT equipment to students following the announcement of a €10 million fund; the funds released to schools to date; if procurement of equipment through his Department has commenced; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5545/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

As part of the implementation of the Digital Strategy for Schools 2015-2020 - Enhancing Teaching, Learning and Assessment, funding of €210m for ICT Infrastructure will be distributed by my Department to primary and second level schools over the five years of the Strategy. €110m has issued over the last three years and a further €40m has recently been issued.

The additional €10m ICT funding issuing over the coming days is also part of the broader Digital Strategy investment. The funding is to assist schools to support students at risk of educational disadvantage due to school closures. Schools have been asked to use this funding to address situations where students are disadvantaged in their engagement with the schools remote teaching and learning due to lack of access to digital devices.

This ICT Grant funding issues to schools, as schools are best placed to identify the requirements of their own student cohort and to meet those requirements. Decisions as to what equipment is to be acquired and procurement of same is the responsibility of schools. While students, pupils and teachers can engage with remote learning using devices including Desktop PCs, Tablets and Chromebooks for example, for those schools who have determined that laptops are required and in order to ameliorate current laptop supply situation for schools, the Department has advised schools of two mechanisms to aggregate purchase orders from schools for laptops under centralised bulk provisioning processes. The generation of a bulk order will enable prioritisation of laptops orders with manufacturers, and so expedite delivery over and above timelines that are generally available at present. These mechanisms are Single Provider Frameworks for the provision of Dell and HP laptops respectively, established based on OGP Frameworks, and meet technical and procurement requirements for schools. Information regarding OGP Frameworks for the provision of other relevant equipment for schools has also been provided via the circulars governing the ICT Grant scheme.

Full details regarding the funding are set out in Circulars 0031/2020 (€40m funding) and 0032/2020 (€10m funding) which are available on the Department’s website at

https://www.education.ie/en/Circulars-and-Forms/Circulars-and-Forms/ .