Northern Ireland Executive ministers and their officials have over the past 24 hours been involved in a number of initiatives and critical decisions relating to the Coronavirus emergency.
Children and young people who have not had access to digital technology during lockdown are to be given the opportunity to avail of free wi-fi and mobile connectivity for learning, Education Minister Peter Weir announced today.
Up to 2,500 MI-FI devices for children not within a BT wi-fi hotspot and 8,300 wi-fi vouchers for disadvantaged children are to be provided under the scheme which the Department of Education has devised along with the telecoms company and the Education Authority.
It is anticipated the wi-fi scheme will run for up to eight months for eligible pupils from the middle of August.
Priority will be given during the distribution of devices to children in year groups: 11, 13, 6 and 3 in this order; and to those pupils who receive free school meals, have special educational needs or from newcomer target groups including: asylum seeker, refugee and Roma children.
Looked after children and children considered vulnerable, as well as rurality will also be taken into account.
Driving tests for certain categories of drivers are to be reinstated this month in accordance with public health guidance on physical distancing, Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon confirmed.
Motorbike driving tests resumed from Monday (6 July), with tests for drivers of buses, tractors and module 4 CPC tests for lorry, bus and coach drivers due to return from 20 July.
Driver theory tests were also reintroduced from Monday, with measures to ensure safe social distancing in place.
The Minister also revealed the validity of theory test pass certificates for learner drivers will be extended because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Test certificates that expire between 1 March 2020 and 31 October 2020 will be extended by eight months and off-road motorcycle test pass certificates which expire between 1 March 2020 and 31 August 2020 will be extended by six months.
The Minister said: “This legislative change will come into effect in September 2020 and will be applied retrospectively. It will benefit over 1,300 people.”
Economy Minister Diane Dodds announced details of a free Postgraduate Certificate (PgCert) in Operations and Supply Chain Management for people whose career has been impacted by Covid-19.
A total of 100 fully funded places are available for the part-time PgCert with Queen’s University Belfast. The course starts in August and is open to people who have a 2:2 honours degree in any subject or appropriate work experience.
Applications for the PgCert in Operations and Supply Chain Management part-time course are being accepted now and the closing date for applications is 24 July.
The course will run from 17 August to 30 November 2020.
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