About €4m of the investment announced yesterday for third level colleges in the mid west to tackle social disadvantage will go to classroom initiatives.
The project, being supported by the Strategic Innovation Fund, is to be led by the University of Limerick with Limerick Institute of Technology, Mary Immaculate College of Education and Institute of Technology, Tralee.
“Some of the kids in the most disadvantaged areas are lost to the system before the age of 10, so we need a whole new approach to delivering the curriculum in schools,” said University of Limerick lifelong learning and outreach director Dermot Coughlan. “We want to use the technology that’s familiar to them, so instead of banning mobile phones, maybe teachers can use them or game consoles to help learning,” he said.
Schools will also be encouraged to place an emphasis on music and sport in the classroom, to help engage young people in poorer areas such as Moyross and Southill.
“It is not just about learning instruments but teachers could use the concept of the orchestra, for example and working together for team building. We want young people to understand they must work together to help get back a sense of social cohesion,” said Mr Coughlan.
Other strands of the programme, in which colleges will work closely with the Limerick Regeneration project, include mentoring by third level students of those at the schools they once attended. The aim will be to help young people at risk of dropping out of school.
The colleges are also to receive €2m to open lifelong learning centres in Ennis and Killarney, similar to the Downtown Centre in Limerick.
They will give students from diverse backgrounds access to certificate, diploma and degree courses.
The Limerick centre has helped adult and mature learners avail of lifelong and second-chance education opportunities, with more than 30 students enrolled in higher education programmes which will entitle them to automatic entry in a range of third level courses.