Sinn Féin - On Your Side

While Governments haggle hundreds of young people can't enrol for FE courses

24 August, 2006

Sinn Féin Education Spokesperson Michael Ferguson has said that the Department of Employment and Learning and their 26 County counterparts in the Department of Education and Science are dragging their heels on resolving the situation around funding students from the south for courses in the north that is impacts particularly on the skills needs of hundreds of young people who live along the border.

Commenting on the situation which has Departments from two Governments haggling over who should pay for the skills needs of these young people, Michael Ferguson said,

"I spoke with the Department of Employment and Learning today and all they could say was that they are still discussing the situation but they do not think they should pay for the training courses of young people from the Border Counties.

" This is not a satisfactory answer because the parents of hundreds of young people who annually take up training places in FE Colleges in Fermanagh, Newry and the North & West Institute travel across the Border every day to work and pay taxes in the Six Counties and have as much right as anyone else to secure skills that they will inevitably use for the benefit of the economy both sides of the Border.

"Education is an agreed area of co-operation in the Good Friday Agreement and the two governments need to live up to their commitments and resolve this.

"While these two government haggle over who should pay for the skills needs of young people who all live on the same island, colleges don't know whether they can run courses, tutors aren't sure if they have a job to teach and young people two weeks before the beginning of tern still can't enrol."

" Sinn Fein MLAs, MPs and TDs from both sides of the Border are currently seeking meetings with British Minister Marie Eagle and Irish Minister Mary Hannafin to ensure that no young person is denied a training opportunity. "

"We are also disappointed that given the remit of the North South Secretariat to the harmonisation of education and skills across the island that they have remained silent on the matter and I will be discussing with them what influence they are exercising in the interests of these young people. Both Governments under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement have a responsibility to meet the education and skills needs of all the young people on this island and to harmonise the structural delivery and value of these skills." ENDS

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