An Cosán calls for communities across Ireland to come together to address the digital divide
An Cosán, Ireland’s largest provider of community education, is calling for communities across Ireland to join its inaugural Get Yourself Online campaign, which aims to highlight and address the digital divide.
Currently almost one in two adults in Ireland lack basic digital skills, according to the government’s Adult Literacy For Life Strategy launched last September. It is hoped that enabling adult learners currently lacking basic digital skills to get online confidently and safely will help Ireland reach the European Union target of 80% of adults with digital skills by 2030.*
The Get Yourself Online (GYO) campaign will be launched during a ‘Digital Equity Today for a Sustainable Future Tomorrow’ webinar An Cosán is hosting on 25th April.
An Cosán advocates that having basic digital skills is critical to supporting lifelong learning, active citizenship, employability and inclusion. The GYO campaign is aimed at equipping community organisations and community educators to deliver digital skills training to adults to build their confidence and capacity in the use of digital skills.
Speaking ahead of the launch, An Cosán CEO Heydi Foster said, “In order to eradicate poverty in our most marginalised communities, our focus at An Cosán has always been on helping those furthest behind first, especially women. We were pioneers of online and blended learning long before the arrival of Covid. With the support of our sponsors – Accenture, our public funder SOLAS, and our community partners – we are working to promote digital inclusion by improving digital literacy and building confidence around digital competence”.
The webinar will be opened by Ms Foster and there will be contributions from Simon Harris TD, Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Paul Finnis, Chief Executive Officer of The Learning Foundation / Digital Poverty Alliance UK, Katie Maguire, Management Consultant within Accenture’s Financial Services, and Jemma Lee, Léargas / European Platform for Adult Education.
Highlights of the launch will include a presentation about Accenture’s report ‘Towards a Digital Society’, which explores the issues that have emerged for the digital divide post-Covid and how groups in society are at serious risk of being left behind. There will also be contributions from learners and community organisations sharing their digital experiences.
Jen Speirs, Digital Divide Sponsor for Accenture in Ireland and Executive Creative Director within Accenture Interactive, said, “We recently launched the Accenture Digital Index, which examines the state of the digital divide in Ireland. It reveals that long-standing issues around ‘the haves and have nots’ in an emerging digital society have become more nuanced as we emerge from the pandemic. Skills gaps that persist could mean a cohort of people risk being isolated from the digital economy. This is why the Get Yourself Online campaign is crucial to help us reach those people that most need basic digital skills.”
Through its network of 226 partners, An Cosán’s campaign aims to reach thousands of adult learners across the country with events taking place to raise awareness and help adults get online confidently and safely. Community Digital Champions are signing up to raise awareness and roll out the campaign in their localities with digital skills checks and supports being made available.
The hashtag #GetYourselfOnline will be shared on social media to help recruit many more in the coming months.
The Digital Champions will be able to avail of a suite of e-learning training materials and toolkits that An Cosán is developing to enable and empower adult learners to learn the skills to get online. These were developed using DigComp, the European Digital Competence Framework for Citizens.
“We’re calling for community organisations and educators across the country to sign up and join our campaign,” Ms Foster said. “Our Get Yourself Online campaign will give community organisations around Ireland the opportunity to learn more about digital equity and how to encourage and support adult learners to develop digital skills. We will connect them to best practice in digital inclusion research and train them to utilise An Cosán’s free digital inclusion tools, which will help empower them to take action on digital skills issues locally.
Ms Foster continued, “We will continue to work with government and corporates to come up with creative solutions to equip and empower people to help them improve their prospects.”
Find out more on our Get Yourself Online page >> www.ancosan.ie/getyourselfonline
* The European Commission’s digital strategy ‘Digital Compass 2030’