Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Education Thomas Byrne has called for further action to be taken to address the digital divide for students.

His comments come following the latest survey carried out by Studyclix which found that 47% of teachers believe that access to broadband and digital devices were a barrier to teaching. The report also found that 35% of teachers reported poor internet connections in their area.

He said, “The results of this survey are further evidence of the growing digital divide. Almost half of teachers are reporting that pupils don’t have access to the necessary equipment while one in three have a poor broadband connection. This survey indicates a greater level of severity than previous surveys and will require further work on the part of the Department of Education.

“When broken down it is clear that the recent announcement of €10 million from the Department will be insufficient for many schools to meet demand.

“It was always the case that this massive, unplanned switch to distance learning would result in some students experiencing greater difficulty than others, and further work for teachers. What is most concerning is the scale of the problem and the inequity it brings with it.

“There is evidence internationally that those without access to equipment risk falling behind their classmates. The Department must do everything in their power to avoid this situation developing and becoming widespread here.

“We need to see further active engagement with schools and internet service providers to close the gap in poor broadband for teachers and pupils. A clearer understanding is also needed as to what impact the €10 million announced to deal with this issue will have,” concluded Deputy Byrne.