Irish tech entepreneur gifts software to help Ukrainian children attend school

Brendan Morrissey’s eSchools platform translates from Ukrainian into English

Almost 1,000 Ukrainian schoolchildren have signed up to a software programme which automatically translates their work into English.

Irish tech entrepreneur Brendan Morrissey has repurposed his technology company based in the UK, eSchools, to help translate for Ukrainian children attending Irish schools who do not have English.

Mr Morrissey said the platform was launched two weeks ago in Ireland and has already been adopted by several hundred Irish schools.

“It’s been crazy. We are onboarding refugees all day long. Children can go on the platform. They can do their homework, their activities, their blogs, their projects in Ukrainian. They press a button and it switches to English.

“Teachers can put their projects up on the platform and it switches to Ukrainian. It removes the barrier for entry to schools as language is the biggest difficulty.”

Mr Morrissey said similar technology has been working on the eSchools platform in the UK. It is in use in some 26,000 schools across the world.

There are now 50 languages on the platform and it has been adopted by schools in countries including Saudi Arabia and South Korea.

“It’s a very simple solution for children to connect with teachers,” he said.

Mr Morrissey said he was giving the technology free of charge to Irish schools in order to help Ukrainian children integrate into the Irish educational system.

“It is not something that you can charge for. You have to help these people. There is a purpose beyond profit about it.”

Any schools that wish to sign up to the platform can do so at ukraineschool.com.

Because the platform is GDPR compliant, requests for it have to come from a teacher in the school.

He is also appealing to Big Tech companies for donations of hardware such as refurbished tablets or laptops so more Ukrainian children can get on line faster.

‘It is really helpful’

Ukrainian teacher Svilana Saseyi, who arrived in Ireland three weeks ago, said she has been using the eSchools programme with her own children.

She started in Presentation Secondary School for Girls in Kilkenny city last week. “I have tested it as a teacher and with Ukrainian children in the school I teach in. It is very useful, easy to use and very user-friendly,” she said.

“You can share ideas from other teachers. It can be a hub for other teachers too. It is really helpful.”

Ms Saseyi and her children Michael (12) and Prince (9) are in Ireland under the temporary protection provision rather than as refugees though the status of both are mostly the same.

“I was an English teacher back in Ukraine. I work in special needs education. Though my children speak some English, I have met many Ukrainian children who don’t and that is a big challenge for them. This programme may help them a lot. A lot of schools are ready to accept Ukrainian teachers, but it takes some time.”