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Limerick Primary Schools Respond to the Challenges of COVID-19

Four women holding a banner on the grounds of a school

A migrant integration initiative of Mary Immaculate College (MIC) has been awarded €45,000 from the Government of Ireland to assist Limerick primary schools respond to the challenges posed by COVID-19.

The funding, which was granted through Rethink Ireland’s Innovate Together Fund, will be utilised by the EDNIP Project (Embracing Diversity, Nurturing Integration, Learning for Life Project) at MIC to increase digital access for children in five primary schools in Limerick city, namely St John’s Girls’ and Infant Boys’ Primary School, St Michael’s Infant School, Scoil Iosagáin CBS Primary School, Our Lady of Lourdes Primary School and Presentation Primary School.

Funding will be used to support access to digital learning within the home through the purchase of wi-fi enabled tablets for over 100 families across the five schools. EDNIP will also provide digital skills supports and programmes for parents and children to increase their capacity to access digital learning at home.

Professor Eugene Wall, President of MIC expressed his delight at this funding allocation saying, “This timely funding will provide EDNIP schools with much-needed resources to support families and school staff to address many of the additional challenges that COVID-19 has created. The EDNIP project encapsulates MIC’s commitment to creating a diverse, welcoming and inclusive college for all and to progressing its goals of promoting integration and celebrating the rich diversity in our society.”

The funding will also be used by EDNIP for the roll out of online activities, which will increase access and provide sustainable responses to COVID 19 restrictions. Some of these online initiatives will include EAL (English as an Additional Language) sessions for parents of migrant children, as well as the development of an online forum for parents. There will also be a focus on increasing parents’ capacity to support children’s learning within the home and assisting them in engaging with the schools’ educational digital platforms.

Since 2017, EDNIP has worked closely with these five primary schools to support migrant children and their families to integrate into school and community life. The project celebrates the cultural diversity within these schools by working with the whole school community to provide innovative and sustainable responses to integration.

According to Tracie Tobin, principal of St. Michael’s Infant School, “The funding from EDNIP embraces the cultural diversity in St. Michael’s in such a way that enables our families to connect more than ever before. The children are at the heart of every decision made and the benefits to them has ensured a very positive social, emotional and educational outcome for all of our children.”

EDNIP Project Leader, Áine Lyne, said, “Schools are one of the first public institutions with which many newly arrived families have contact with and are thus key public spaces in which integration can be fostered. EDNIP acknowledges the rapidly changing cultural diversity in schools and communities in Limerick city and the important and strategic role schools can play in responding positively and proactively to same. These EDNIP schools are committed to promoting and celebrating the cultural diversity in their schools and this additional funding will support them to continue to do so during this challenging time.”

Over the past three years, EDNIP has provided in excess of 12,000 integration opportunities for school staff, parents and children through a range of in school, after school and school holiday time supports.

EDNIP is an initiative of the Transforming Education through Dialogue (TED) Project located in the Curriculum Development Unit at MIC. The project is run in partnership with the above primary schools along with Tusla Education and Child Welfare Services, Limerick City and County Council, Limerick and Clare Education and Training Board, and Limerick Education Centre.

Rethink Ireland has allocated €3 million in awards to 51 COVID-19 Community Response Projects through their Innovate Together Fund.

Pictured above from L-R: Tracie Tobin, Principal of St. Michael's Infant School; Mary Dunne, Limerick and Clare Education and Training Board; Marie Meskell, Principal of Presentation Primary School; and Áine Lyne, EDNIP Project Leader. (Absent from picture: Kieran Sweeney, Director of the Limerick Education Centre)

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