Latest Laois News: Laois and Offaly disadvantaged learners to benefit from MAEDF funding

Latest Laois News: Laois and Offaly disadvantaged learners to benefit from MAEDF funding

Disadvantaged learners in the Laois and Offaly region to benefit from funding under the Mitigating against Educational Disadvantage Fund (MAEDF) to encourage and support them through further education and training. 

Laois and Offaly Education and Training Board

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The Mitigating Against Educational Disadvantage Fund (MAEDF) aims to provide funding to support educationally disadvantaged learners in accessing and participating in community education. The fund was launched in 2020 by Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris TD, and is administered by SOLAS, the further education and training authority, and the 16 local Education and Training Boards. 

On 13th December 2021 the Minister announced an additional €6.85 million has been granted under this Fund. “In light of the great successes of the Mitigating Against Educational Disadvantage Fund in 2020, where €5.8m was allocated to support community education, and in recognition of the continuing challenges in relation to the ongoing COVID-19 restrictions, I am delighted to announce that a further €6.85 million has been granted under this Fund again this year, comprising over 1,000 initiatives.

“This Fund is specifically designed to tackle educational inequalities which continue to be highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and support access to community education. I would like to thank all the education providers and learners who have engaged with the system – you continue to make a great difference in your communities and your positive work in changing Irish society is to be commended.”

To date Laois and Offaly Education and Training Board (LOETB) has received €321,000 in funding, supporting 23 community projects and 345 individual learners throughout the region. 

The projects vary from programmes to help support online learning, connect communities, and providing social support to vulnerable people. Some of those who have already benefited from the fund are the Irish Wheelchair Association, Ballinagar, Offaly Traveller Movement, Portlaoise Community & Family Resource Centre and the Down Syndrome Centre, Midlands to name but a few.

Welcoming the funding, Sean Fleming, Junior Minister and TD for Laois-Offaly, said it reflected the Government’s continued commitment to education and training during the pandemic. “Blended learning is here to stay and the provision of ICT devices to support almost 350 individuals will allow them to continue their studies and offer pathways in their chosen field of study.”

Fellow Laois-Offaly TD, Charlie Flanagan, also welcomed the funding and, in particular, the supports for community projects. “The pandemic has challenged the social fabric of society and made it more difficult to maintain community connections. This funding will help rebuild those relationships and help communities move forward with renewed confidence.” 

Categories eligible for funding consideration are:

  • Digital Technologies – Supply of devices, software and systems, or CPD training, to facilitate high quality learning and delivery.
  • Learner Assistance Fund to help, where appropriate, with costs associated with course participation, such as: books and class materials.
  • Outreach, Engagement and Mentoring Fund to assist with costs associated with activities such as awareness raising, and services to promote re-engagement.
  • COVID-19 Recovery Exceptional Circumstances Fund for Community Education to address educationally disadvantaged learners. 

LOETB Director of FET, Tony Dalton added; ‘The MAEDF is making a huge difference for both our learners and communities in tackling the challenge of accessibility, and bridging the digital divide. It has allowed LOETB to greatly enhance learner support, and strengthen our service across the Region”.

Details of the 2022 Mitigating Against Educational Disadvantage Fund (MAEDF) will be published on once available.