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Further Education and Training: Motion (Resumed) [Private Members]

Vote from 17/01/2013

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The following motion was moved by Deputy Charlie McConalogue on Wednesday, 16 January 2013:
That Dáil Éireann: agrees that:

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Background information

The following motion was moved by Deputy Charlie McConalogue on Wednesday, 16 January 2013:
That Dáil Éireann: agrees that:
— Further Education and Training (FET) is a hugely important sector that provides an important educational pathway for unemployed, disadvantaged learners and second chance learners to access specialist labour focused courses and to secure employment;
— the FET sector has a crucial role providing education and training for people that the traditional education system has failed and this has been unfairly targeted and cut in Budget 2015

Further Education and Training: Motion (Resumed) [Private Members] 2013;
— Budget 2013 will cut up to 500 positions from this vital service and will increase the pupil-teacher ratio and reduce the training allowances for further education and training scheme participants; and
— the cuts to the FET sector are socially and economically regressive affecting the un- employed and the most marginalised learners in our education system; and
calls on the Government to:
— reverse these regressive and unfair cuts as unemployment is at 14.6% and youth unemployment at close to 30% and these people need the opportunities that the further education sector offers so that they can re-enter the labour market;
— ensure that no courses will be cut from the FET sector, all student applications will be dealt with and no teaching post will be lost;
— commit to tackling educational disadvantage and putting it at the centre of Ireland’s education policy;
— publish any impact assessment that was carried out by the Department of Education and Skills into the impact of the cuts on the provision of courses within the FET sector; and
— commit to carrying out an impact assessment in relation to all future decisions on changes to staffing schedules so that the quality of services to students will not be jeopardized

Debate resumed on amendment No 1:
To delete all words after “Dáil Éireann” and substitute the following:
“notes that:
— considerable savings of €90 million were required in the education budget for 2013;
— the Government’s commitment to fairness in education remains strong and considerable efforts were made to protect frontline education services through the protection of pupil-teacher ratios in free second-level schools and the 28:1 staffing schedule at primary- level, continued protection of overall numbers of Special Needs Assistants and resource teachers and the maintenance of overall staffing and funding for disadvantaged ‘Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools’ schools; and
— in raising the pupil-teacher ratio for Post Leaving Certificate (PLC) courses to 19:1, the Government brought it to the same level as that which applies in all free second level schools;
recognises that:
— PLC courses are for adults who have completed formal second-level education and that the current pupil-teacher ratio of 17:1 is in fact more favourable than the pupil teacher ratio in typical free second-level schools; and
— this budget measure will not impact on the overall number of approved PLC places
30 January 2008 available to the unemployed or to school leavers; and
recognises the Government’s commitment and resolve, as outlined in Pathways to Work, to tackle the serious unemployment crisis by:
— continued investment in over 430,000 part-time and full-time places across the fur- ther and higher education and training sectors in 2013, all of which are open to unemployed people including young people and the long-term unemployed;
— the introduction of 16,500 new flexible re-skilling opportunities specifically for unemployed people in areas of emerging skills needs under the Springboard and Momentum initiatives, with a further 5,000 places planned for 2013;
— initiating the most significant reform of the further education and training sector in it’s history through the establishment of SOLAS – the new further education and training authority;
— embarking on a major programme of related education reforms, through the amalga- mation of the three qualifications bodies, the planned abolition of FÁS and the amalgamation of the 33 Vocational Education Committees into 16 Education and Training Boards; and
— commencing a major reform of the public employment service, through the creation of Intreo, which will help to ensure that unemployed people, in particular the long-term unemployed, can quickly access the most appropriate activation opportunity”
- (Minister for Education and Skills Deputy Ruairi Quinn)

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