Date Uploaded: 20/09/2016
Union fears disadvantaged students will be deterred from teaching courses
The Union of Students in Ireland (USI) is calling for the Government to restore the grant for student teachers ’ attendance at mandatory Gaeltacht courses at a cost of €1 million.
The USI fears students from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds will be deterred from enrolling in teaching courses because of the placement fees.
The union’s pre-Budget submission 2017 has outlined that students starting a primary teaching course have been required to self-fund fees for three weeks of the mandatory Gaeltacht placement at a cost of €637 since the 2012/2013 academic year.
It estimated with 1,350 participants the overall cost of the grant was about €860,000 each year.
Annie Hoey, president of the USI, said there had been a lot of positive changes made to the leaving certificate over the last few years such as a greater focus on the oral element of the Irish language.
“Fluency is best achieved through submergence, which is best refined by spending time in the Gaeltacht,” she said.
“Irish is a dynamic reflection of our individual national culture, history, patriotism and identity.
“It plays a vital, central role in the preservation and promotion in all that is truly and uniquely Irish. It is absolutely vital for those teaching Irish to have a strong grip of the spoken language.”
Ms Hoey said student teachers were already “crippled” by the cost of college.
“They shouldn’t face further costs to improve their Irish, which will improve the quality of their teaching, and, in turn, the quality of the students’ learning,” she said.
The union, which represents 354,000 students in third level education in Ireland, said in September 2014 the then minister for education Jan O’Sullivan estimated the cost of restoring the grant for the extended four-week placement at €1 million.
Journalist: Rachel Flaherty