Ministers Harris and Foley announce new partnership to support education and public engagement in science, technology, engineering and maths

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris TD and Minister for Education Norma Foley TD have today (Tuesday) 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.

Full details on how to apply for support through the SFI Discover Programme can be found here.


 Notes to the Editor

About the SFI Discover Programme

The SFI Discover Programme Call 2021 is a key part of SFI Education and Public Engagement activity. In line with SFI’s 2025 Strategy: Shaping Our Future, the SFI Discover Programme Call aims to empower and inspire deep public engagement. The programme contributes to the themes of Top Talent, Tangible Benefits and A Cohesive Ecosystem. Through its core objectives, the SFI Discover Programme activity will contribute to growing opportunities for dialogue between science and the public it serves and to improving diversity and inclusion in science, through its aims to broaden participation both geographically and amongst less represented voices in science. Underpinning all of this is SFI’s ambition to empower participation, grow talent and be a beacon of best practice in STEM education and public engagement, while always endeavouring to achieve this through the spirit of inspiration. As we continue to live through the Covid-19 pandemic, SFI is more conscious than ever of the importance of supporting the public to have access to and to understand the complex science underpinning crises such as this, in the context of their lives, their health, the health of their loved ones, and the impact it has on our collective future.

About Science Foundation Ireland

About Science Foundation Ireland Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) is the national foundation for investment in research in the areas of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), which assists in the development and competitiveness of industry, enterprise and employment in Ireland. It also promotes and supports STEM education and engagement to improve awareness and understanding of the value of STEM to society and to support the STEM careers pipeline. We believe that scientific knowledge and understanding benefit the whole of society and the economy – join the conversation online at #BelieveInScience @scienceirel. See for more information.