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Teacher training degree to increase by up to €637 – Ó Clochartaigh

9 February, 2012

The effective costs of Primary Teacher Training Courses is to increase by €637 following the cut to grants for training courses in the Gaeltacht, according to Sinn Féin Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh.

The Galway West Senator highlighted the matter following an adjournment debate with Minister of State at Department of Education & Skills with responsibility for Research & Innovation Seán Sherlock.
The compulsory Gaeltacht courses, which have the purpose of improving the standard of Teachers Irish, and immersing them in a natural Irish language environment, are believed to cost in the area of €637, which new students will now have to pay themselves, without any grant assistance.

According to the Department of Education, “All teacher training students in Colleges of Education are required to attend a 3 week course in the Gaeltacht at the end of their first year in training. It should be noted that this is a compulsory part of the course of training.”

Senator Ó Clochartaigh criticised the cut and stated that it would discourage students from lower income backgrounds from beginning teacher training courses.

“This is a cynical, sneaky cut, which will hit many students hard in the pocket. The course is no optional extra, but a compulsory aspect of the course. This effectively increases the cost of Teacher Training courses by up to €637.

“Already the low starting wages and the long periods of time teachers spend teaching before achieving permanency is having a huge impact on the ability of students from low income backgrounds to become teachers. This major additional cost is likely to deter even more students.

“This is an unjust and unwarranted cut, which shows an appalling lack of respect for the importance of a good standard of Irish among our primary teachers. It also shows an appalling lack of understanding of the financial pressures many students and their families are facing.”

Senator Ó Clochartaigh called on the Minister for Education to reverse the cut and to at the very minimum put in place a scheme to alleviate the effects of this cut on the least well off.

“This cut should be reversed if the Government does not want Education to become a profession which only the privileged can join. The sums involved here are quite large, and our students should not have the option of teaching limited by their inability to pay for their Training courses in the Gaeltacht.

“At the very least, and in the interim, the Minister must as a matter of priority provide for some financial support scheme whereby the least well off receive assistance. I will in the coming days be seeking a meeting with the minister in order to impress on him the need to revisit this decision.”

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