Northern Ireland news

Derry teacher in appeal for old devices to 'upcycle' for home schooling

Derry IT teacher Eoghan Barr will clean disused devices before installing the software necessary for home schooling
Seamus McKinney

A Derry teacher has joined forces with the local council to source spare laptops and tablets to help children with home schooling.

The closure of schools for face-to-face teaching until mid-February has sparked concerns that some children do not have access to devices to aid online learning.

However, IT teacher Eoghan Barr has come up with an innovative way of addressing some of the shortfall.

He has launched “Derryware Donations” along with Derry City and Strabane District Council's New2You 'upcycling' centre.

People are being asked to donate old or spare devices which he can then re-build with the software necessary for home schooling such as Google Classroom.

Mr Barr said since floating the idea originally on Facebook, the initiative has been gaining traction.

“Families in NI have had a difficult time during 2020, through lockdown and subsequently from additional disruption since returning to school in September," he said.

“Children have been expected to engage in remote learning with an expectation that families can provide suitable devices for all children in the household to use, along with suitable broadband.”

Mr Barr said any devices submitted for re-building would have all data on the hard drive wiped before being installed with the necessary software.

He called on businesses or individuals to donate old or unused devices provided they are no older than 2010.

They can be left at the council's furniture donation point (New2You) at its Pennyburn recycling depot from Monday to Friday between 10am and noon.

Derry mayor Brian Tierney said the scheme would help alleviate pressures created by home learning for some families.

“I would like to congratulate Eoghan Barr for this innovative and timely scheme and encourage everyone to dig out any devices they no longer use and leave them to the New2You Centre in the coming days,” Mr Tierney said.

“A device you no longer use could be priceless to other local families, many of whom are unable to buy new hardware due to the financial pressures caused by the pandemic.”

All donated devices will be safety tested by New2Year staff before Mr Barr cleans the hard drive and installs the new software ahead of re-distribution.

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