The closure of schools last March due to COVID-19 led to a seismic change in Irish education as online teaching and learning became the new normality. However this shift exposed a considerable technology gap in society with many families not being able to afford the laptops that have now become an essential device for their children to access and download online educational courses and teaching materials. In other homes, children that are in their Leaving Certificate year have to share a laptop with their siblings and parents. As a result of this smart device deficit and with problems associated with broadband connectivity, many young people with financial difficulties are encountering serious learning barriers and have been locked out of education as a result.
So NUI Galway through the nationwide Tech2Students project is once again asking individuals, workplaces and businesses to help young people in their time of great need by donating used laptops and Chromebooks or by giving a financial donation that will allow the purchase of refurbished laptops for students. The university will serve as the regional hub for this initiative coordinated by the Access Office of NUI Galway in collaboration with the Insight Centre for Data Analytics, Galway Chamber of Commerce and Galway City Partnership.
If you can provide a laptop or a donation, please contact https://www.nuigalway.ie/accesscentre/tech2students/
This initiative also has the added bonus of reducing e-waste, which is the fastest growing waste stream in the world. By repurposing, reusing and giving new life to older computing devices, the principles of sustainability and the circular economy are being implemented helping to reduce our carbon footprint, tackling Climate Change and biodiversity loss through reducing the need for the mining of the rare minerals that are key components of phones, tablets and laptops but which are too often extracted within key sensitive wildlife habitats across the globe.
Two of the champions of the National Park City are playing a key part in this programme, namely Aidan Harte and Brendan Smith.