Sinn Féin spokesperson for Social Protection, Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD, has today condemned the decision by Minister Joan Burton to cease social welfare support for those returning to education to attain a teaching qualification.
Deputy Ó Snodaigh said:
“From this September Back to Education Allowance will no longer be available to people who wish to qualify as teachers. In taking this decision the Minister for Social Protection is closing off access to teaching profession for people dependent on social welfare.
“This decision will impact on people who have already commenced down a career path and are in the process of obtaining a primary degree with a view to following this with the relevant teaching qualification.
“They would have commenced down this path in the knowledge that the necessary post-graduate course, which was a Higher Diploma, was covered by Back to Education Allowance but they will now find their career path has been closed down.
“From September the H Dip is being replaced with a Professional Masters in Education and the Minister is opportunistically using this changeover as an opportunity to cease BTEA cover, rather than logically extending the BTEA to the new secondary school teachers’ qualification.
“The teaching profession should not be the preserve of the wealthy. It is in everyone’s interests that we would continue to have a social mix of teachers qualifying into the future
“The Minister’s change will also prevent those with a BA, Bsc, or BCom who have not been able to find work from returning to education to enhance their degree with the teaching qualification as they would have been able to do in the past.
“I have written to the Minister and asked her to reverse her decision and reinstate Back to Education Allowance support for social welfare recipients to pursue a career in teaching.”