Fianna Fail MEP Billy Kelleher is warning that thousands of children are at risk of missing out on vital education services due to shoddy and poor broadband connectivity in their community.

The Ireland South MEP was commenting as it emerged that schools will close with home schooling, supplemented by digital activities, will become the norm for the next number of weeks.

“With the expected decision to close schools to avoid mass movement of people, parents will now have to take the lead in educating their children in the home.

“We hear about many good initiatives aimed at supporting this online learning such as the potential resumption of RTÉ’s education portal, or through video conferencing with their teachers.

“However, for children in areas where broadband is poor or non-existent, I am very worried that they will miss out on these vital supports.

“Additionally, there are still thousands of homes in this country where broadband is not available due to its high cost.

“Mechanisms must be put in place to ensure that these young people are not forgotten about and that their education continues as much as possible.

“The Covid 19 pandemic has highlighted the deficiencies our country has when it comes to connectivity and broadband. Whether it’s trying to work from home or teaching children in the home, there are major gaps in broadband access, especially in rural Ireland.

“We must redouble our efforts to implement the National Broadband Plan as quickly as possible. Access to broadband is not a luxury; it is an absolute necessity in this day and age,” concluded Kelleher.