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Mobile phone firms urged to unlock data to give students a chance


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Mobile phone companies have been urged to provide unlimited data to students and teachers to give everyone a fair chance of keeping up with online teaching and learning during the schools shutdown.

Post-primary schools, in particular, have resorted to technology in order to maintain continuity of education and deliver resources to pupils via virtual learning platforms and emails.


However, where students or teachers have to rely on their mobile phone to upload, transfer or receive resources it is gobbling up their data allowances and pushing up their costs.

The Association of Community and Comprehensive Schools (ACCS) said that many students, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds, do not have access to devices and are accessing materials from schools through their mobile phones.

Access to wi-fi is also an issue for both students and teachers in some areas, and many teachers too may find themselves relying on their mobile phones to deliver lessons.

ACCS president Paul Fiorentini said the provision of access to free and unlimited data would be very beneficial to students and learners at this time.

"This would remove a burden from many parents who are already under pressure due to their changed circumstances," he said.

"It would also go some way to levelling the playing field for many children."

He said in normal times schools contributed to the everyday fabric, routine and order of society.

In these extraordinary times schools and their teachers could continue to offer that routine, purpose and social connection by doing their very best to support the continuation of the education programme for the pupils in all-year groups, he added.

He went on to say that Ireland placed an enormous premium on the education and training of its young people and they deserved to see that service maintained and have a sense of purpose.

"Although we are in a period of great unease and uncertainty our young people need our continued commitment to them," he said.

Mr Fiorentini added that students needed to be assured that teaching and learning would continue and that the State exams would proceed, including as many elements as possible.

A spokesperson for the Department of Education said the mobile phone industry and the regulatory body Comreg were looking into the issue of data limits for households at this time.

The Department of Education has been engaging with the Department of Communications on the issue.