Schools welcome delivery of IT equipment to support blended learning

Local schools were delighted recently to receive a second batch of IT equipment to assist local families overcome the challenges of home schooling.

The equipment has been funded through Derry City and Strabane District Council's Covid19 Community Support Programme (CSP), which has delivered extensive support to local communities in recent months funded by the Department for Communities.

In January £270,000 was allocated in a third tranche of funding for the delivery of a dedicated Connectivity Programme for post-primary schools, with a separate allocation of £24,000 to address rural connectivity problems specifically in the Derg and Sperrin areas.

The programme is being delivered in partnership with Local Growth Partnerships who have been working with local schools in their areas to ascertain need and target distribution.

Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District, Councillor Brian Tierney, visited three schools in Derry today where the equipment was being delivered. "It was fantastic to see the schools receiving this second batch of hardware today," he declared. "This hasn't been an easy journey for teachers who have been doing their very best to support students with very limited resources. It has also caused undue stress for families and children who have been struggling to keep up with lessons without access to tablets or home computers.

"Connectivity has been a major issue for children in rural areas who have also faced the additional challenge of poor broadband service as well as limited resources. We have a long way to go before we see the end of this health crisis and I hope this equipment goes some way to assisting schools and families when the need arises."

Ciara Ferguson is Manager of Greater Shantallow Area Partnership in the Ballyarnett DEA, where they have been working with schools to ensure the equipment reaches those who need it most.

"The community here has been under incredible pressure during the pandemic," she stressed. "Families have really been struggling to meet the demands of home schooling – particularly families with three or four children. The financial pressures presented by Covid-19 have meant people are living on tighter budgets and simply can't afford to buy expensive items like tablets or laptops.

"I'm delighted to see the arrival of this second batch of equipment which will ensure we have the resources available to assist those in need should they have to return to blended learning for any period over the coming months. This will be a great relief to both teachers and parents."

St Brigid's College received 104 chrome books, Thornhill College received 69 chrome books and 18 laptops while St Columb's College received 37 chrome books and 53 laptops – a total of 281 devices for students in the Ballyarnett DEA.

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