Conradh na Gaeilge, USI and student teachers gather today at Leinster House.
Today, Thursday 13th December, Conradh na Gaeilge and the Union of Students in Ireland call on the education minister Joe McHugh to support our student teachers. They will gather with students and teachers at Leinster House at 1pm.
As a compulsory part of education courses, student teachers of Irish must spend a period of time in the Gaeltacht. Currently, it costs primary school student teachers €750 for a two week period in the Gaeltacht. This does not include travel costs or materials. This expense adds to their yearly college fees of €3000 while they do not receive any pay for their work on school placement.
According to Conradh na Gaeilge, spending time in the Gaeltacht is a vital part of a teacher's education in order to improve their standard of Irish but the extra costs entailed with Gaeltacht placement often stops students from choosing teaching courses. In order to challenge the current lack of Irish teachers, the government must reinstate the Gaeltacht grant.
Julian de Spáinn, General Secretary, Conradh na Gaeilge, says: The government has no excuse not to reinstate funding for Gaeltacht courses that was cut during the recession. This should be a priority for the government and Conradh na Gaeilge call on education Minister Joe McHguh, TD, who is dedicated to the encouragement of learning the language, to take action and reverse this injustice on student teachers. Conradh na Gaeilge believes that this decision would encourage student teachers to have a positive outlook on this compulsory part of their third level course.
Síona Cahill, USI President, says: The additional Gaeltacht fee is a huge burden for student teachers, aspiring secondary school teachers need proof of 2 months residency in Gaeltacht areas, while primary school teachers must undertake at least two Gaeltacht placements. This takes our students out of their own jobs for a long portion of the Summer, a time when most students save for the academic year ahead. The Minister for Education seriously underestimated the number of expected retiring teachers this year by 2 thirds. The Union of Students in Ireland are calling for the reinstatement of the Gaeltacht Grant immediately as our students can not afford this cost and students are suffering as a result.