Cross Border Digital Learning Network launched
-Simultaneous launch in Belfast, Omagh, and Donegal-
Tyrone Donegal Partnership, a leading cross-border development company, today launched an innovative video conferencing initiative called CORE Digital Network. The launch took place simultaneously in three locations – Belfast, Omagh and Kilcar, Co. Donegal. Each venue was linked by the video conferencing technology which is used in the project. The project is jointly funded by the International Fund for Ireland (IFI), which has contributed €485,450, and Tyrone Donegal Partnership, which has contributed €48,545.
CORE Digital Network will involve the extension of the World Bank Global Development Learning Network, available on a cross-border basis in Omagh, to five community learning centres in Donegal. The Video Conference Suites will be based in Ballyshannon, Clonmany, Dungloe, Kilcar and St. Johnston.
The Network will provide local access to a wide range of courses covering subjects such as conflict management/resolution, citizenship, personal development, diversity awareness, peace and reconciliation, and community development. The three-year project will further help to overcome three of the main barriers to education and development in rural border areas – the border itself, travel distance and lack of critical mass to run and support programmes in rural areas.
Speaking at the launch in Belfast, Denis Rooney, Chairman of the International Fund for Ireland, said, ‘The IFI identifies strongly with this project, as we recognise that reconciliation thrives when driven from the grass-roots, and that access to education is crucial for sustainable confidence and capacity-building in the community. Education is not just an end in itself. It is also the foundation upon which a secure, more peaceful, future can be built. The Fund has had a successful relationship with Tyrone Donegal Partnership for many years, particularly through our Wider Horizons programme. The CORE Digital Network is one of many examples of the contribution this organisation has made to embedding good relations in Northern Ireland and the border counties of the Republic.’
Speaking at the launch in Kilcar, An Tánaiste Mary Coughlan, T.D., said, “Being a native of Donegal, I recognise the immense difference this project will make to education provision in Donegal. By locating the centres for learning throughout Donegal, the Tyrone/Donegal Partnership has ensured that students from even the most remote parts of the county can participate in the learning experience offered at the selected centres. Not only that, they can also interact with their counterparts in the other centres in Donegal, Omagh, and Belfast. In theory, it certainly does make our vast county a smaller place!”
Speaking at the launch in Omagh, Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Michelle Gildernew MP MLA said, “After seeing the video conferencing products first hand at the CORE Digital Network event, I was very impressed with the potential opportunities offered. Today’s event demonstrated how technology can advance the economic, educational, social and cultural capacity of rural community groups within the area to connect with each other. I believe this is a great way to reach our rural communities and as technologies evolve it also provides new ways to develop partnerships and address issues such as social exclusion and isolation.”
Gareth Boyle, Core Digital Network Manager commented, “We are excited to be engaging rural communities in Donegal through the use of video conferencing technology to promote knowledge transfer and enrich skills in their own towns and villages. Rural people in their own communities are constrained by financial and time pressures, commitments to family and jobs, and responsibilities to the operation of their family farm or business. By empowering rural communities with access to education, knowledge, and new partnerships without actually leaving their own town, Core Digital Network will ultimately translate into more economically-sustainable communities across Tyrone and Donegal.”