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NCI’s Early Learning Initiative Receives Funding to Inspire STEM Engagement

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris TD, and Minister for Education, Norma Foley TD, have today announced a €5 million investment in 38 projects which encourage understanding of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

The funding will create greater public awareness of the impact of STEM on society and everyday life, generate opportunities for dialogue and encouraging diversity in STEM-related disciplines.

In announcing the funding, Minister Harris TD said: “These initiatives, involving the general public and our communities across primary, secondary and third-level education, are essential to fostering curiosity about science, technology, engineering and maths.

“This investment will help to broaden participation in STEM – both geographically and amongst less represented voices – and inspire all generations to deepen their understanding of what learnings, studies and careers in these fields entails.

In turn, the next generation, in particular, will be better engaged and empowered to share their ideas and solutions to societal challenges.”

In relation to the projects co-funded by the Department of Education, Minister Foley said: “The Department of Education is delighted to collaborate once again with the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science through the SFI Discover Programme. STEM subjects encourage learners’ innate curiosity about how the world works, and I’m confident that support of these 38 initiatives will inspire the students involved to continue their studies in this area. I wish all of the project teams every success in their work over the coming months.”

The Early Learning Initiative (ELI), at National College of Ireland facilitates programmes including STEM Play & Learn, a six-week home visiting programme for 4–6-year-olds; weekly Coding Clubs for 7–12-year-olds; a new Senior Coding Club for 13 – 16-year-olds, and STEM Events which welcome families into a higher education environment. The STEM Family Learning in the Community project, facilitated by ELI in partnership with NCI's School of Computing, has been selected as one of the projects to receive funding as part of this initiative.

Dr Josephine Bleach, Director of the Early Learning Initiative at NCI commented that, “We are delighted to receive SFI funding for NCI’s STEM Family Learning Programme which provides inclusive access and progression routes in STEM to vulnerable children and families, thereby providing hope for the future, improving morale and enabling children to develop the STEM skills, dispositions and knowledge needed to achieve their education, career and life ambitions. Strong relationships with parents sustain long-term intergenerational engagement, while addressing the ongoing societal challenges of a constantly changing diverse population with high levels of educational and digital poverty.”

Visit the SFI website to learn more about this announcement.