10 Aug 2022

Digital divide prevents equal access to education says Donegal senator

"That gap can be closed with the political will" - Eileen Flynn

Digital divide prevents equal access to education says Donegal senator

Senator Eileen Flynn

Independent Senator Eileen Flynn said children from marginalised communities do not have equal access to education because of the digital divide.

Senator Flynn has called on members of the Seanad to write collectively to the Minister for Education to ensure that all students have the digital resources and broadband service they need to access education equally.

Addressing the Seanad today, Senator Flynn claimed that for a lot of people living in marginalised communities and from marginalised communities, they have already had less opportunity.

“And I see it every day. I’m on the ground with the Traveller community, I’m on the ground in rural Ireland. I’m seeing young people in rural Ireland not having access.”

Senator Flynn has previously raised the issue of the digital divide a number of times, in the Seanad and in the Joint Education Committee.

“I’m asking every single senator in here to join with me to write to the Minister for Education. Let’s try to do a bit of collective action here.”

She said if there is no response to correspondence, she would ask the Seanad to call the Minister to the House to address the issue.

Speaking later, the senator said the pandemic has highlighted the digital divide. She said this past year’s focus on remote learning has left students without access to laptops or reliable broadband at a great disadvantage.

“We are seeing a new style of teaching and blended learning. We must make sure all children, all students, have equal access to education.”

She added: “We need to allocate funding that will close the gap. That gap can be closed with the political will. This is a critical inequality in Irish society right now, and it needs to be dealt with.

“I think this is the most vital piece of work we could do right now to make sure our young people have the tools they need to be successful in the education system.” 

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