18 May 2021: Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris TD and Minister for Education Norma Foley TD have today announced details of a new partnership between Science Foundation Ireland and the Department of Education to support education and public engagement projects in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) across the country.

The Department of Education will contribute up to €500,000 towards successful projects under the SFI Discover Programme, with the aim of supporting effective interventions in the early years STEM education continuum.

Speaking about the programme Minister Harris said: “This is a very welcome partnership between Science Foundation Ireland and the Department of Education. STEM education is critical to our future growth in talent and for economic development. Young people are our scientists and researchers of the future. I am sure that this will benefit many young learners across the country and encourage them to engage with science subjects, and hopefully consider a career in STEM in the future. I look forward to hearing about the projects funded under this SFI Discover programme call in the coming months.”

Minister Foley said: “This partnership works towards some of the ambitious goals and actions required to achieve and improve the STEM education experience and outcomes for all learners, from early years to post-primary level, which are set out in my Department’s STEM Education Policy Statement 2017-2026. The areas we are funding through SFI’s Discover Call are designed to tackle important issues such as diversity, gender balance in education, developing creativity, problem-solving skills through STEM and the Arts, knowledge sharing and equity of access to meaningful information and tools for all regions and community groups. We welcome your ideas.”

The new areas in the SFI Discover Programme Call highlighted for consideration under the partnership are:

  • STEM careers awareness and role-model based programmes that address underrepresented communities and challenge stereotypes in STEM
  • Proposals that support building county/regional networks for actors delivering STEM engagement activity. The purpose is to build knowledge sharing networks at a regional/county level that will address equity of access for schools/communities in that area.
  • Proposals based on STEM and the Arts approaches that support learners to participate in cross-curricular learning and make connections between STEM concepts and solving problems in new and exciting ways.

The partnership is aligned with the Department of Education’s STEM Education Policy Statement 2017-2026 and SFI’s new strategy, Shaping Our Future, which has a pillar focused on building a cohesive ecosystem. This new initiative focuses on supporting a joined-up approach to effective interventions in the early years STEM education continuum. The STEM Education Policy Statement 2017-2026 covers all learners from early years to post-primary level.