Speech by Minister Hoctor at the Launch of Intel’s “Log On, Learn” Programme

Good afternoon everyone. I am absolutely delighted to be here with you today, for the launch of Intel’s “Log On, Learn” Programme. I would like to thank Evelyn Pender, Community Solutions Manager of the Corporate Affairs Group in Intel Ireland, for her kind invitation to officiate here today. It is particularly appropriate that his initiative is being launched during Positive Ageing Week, which commenced on Friday last.

In my role as Minister for Older People, I have responsibility for the new Office for Older People. This Office reinforces most clearly the commitment of the Government to enhancing the lives of our senior citizens.

One of the priorities of my new Office will be to develop a Strategy for Positive Ageing. The Strategy will involve, for example, better operational plans by Government Departments to address objectives relating to older people, improve service delivery and monitor progress or identify new challenges.

The Government’s objective of continued development of community-based services for older persons is reflected in the unprecedented levels of funding given to the sector in recent times. Over the last three years, we have funded the largest ever expansion in services for older people; to ensure that they receive as much care as possible in their own homes; that high standards are set and enforced in all residential care settings; and that the cost of residential care is always affordable and never an anxiety.

In 2006 and 2007 for example, just over €400 million was provided to enhance service developments across the sector, of which around €190 million was for community-based services over these two years.

In the context of improving the lives of older people, Intel’s “Log On, Learn” Programme is most welcome and has the potential to contribute much for all participating, whether young or old. I understand that this initiative will involve transition year students in “buddying up” with older people from their local communities, to teach them how to use computers and the internet.

In 8 weekly training sessions, the student tutor shares their knowledge of how to use a computer and mouse, basic Microsoft Word and the Internet. In addition to this, tutors will also boost older peoples’ confidence to overcome the ‘fear factor’ surrounding ‘new’ technologies.

This programme is being rolled out to over 20 pilot schools. I understand that Michael O’ Leary, the National Transition Year Coordinator in the Department of Education and Science, is fully supportive of this programme. If around 85% of schools adopt this new initiative, potentially over 30,000 older people could be trained annually.

I would like in particular to acknowledge the involvement and support of Microsoft and An Post in the development of the course.

It is indeed wonderful to see such an innovative project coming on-stream, especially one that involves collaboration between young people and our senior citizens. I have no doubt that not only will there be a huge fun factor involved, but that a two-way transfer of knowledge and experience will result, with great benefits for all.

For the students, they are getting a superb opportunity to develop their research and marketing skills, as well as expressing their IT skills. Not only that, “Log On, Learn” gives them a chance to experience teaching, in a one to one context. Naturally, this can only serve to enhance their communications and interpersonal skills, which will be advantageous to them later on in life. A further bonus is that the time spent by these students is eligible for inclusion towards the President’s Gaisce Awards.

The older folk will gain also; by achieving basic IT skills. They will no longer feel in some cases at least to be left “out of the loop”, as modern communications depend so much now on computers. However, they also stand to gain by developing an improved understanding of younger people and from having access to greater connectivity, both local and global.

I hope you all enjoy today’s proceedings and I wish to congratulate all those involved with this worthy venture. It gives me great pleasure, therefore to officially launch Intel’s “Log On, Learn” programme and wish you every success for the future.