Offaly trainee teachers raise issues of huge fees
Senator Fiona O'Loughlin has raised the issue of Irish training fees after being contacted by a number of Offaly trainee teachers.
"Last week a number of Offaly students who are studying Masters of Education in Primary Education of Hibernia College contacted me in relation to their upcoming Gaelteacht experience," the Kildare politician said.
"As students undertaking initial teacher training, they (1,750 students altogether), like the thousands of teachers before, must complete an immersive Gaeltacht course to comply with Teaching Council requirements. It is a course that serves not only as a fully immersive language learning experience but also one which fostered a grá for Gaeilge in generations of teachers.
"In an era pre-Covid, this immersive experience took the form of a two-week block in the summers of our first and second year of the programme. The cost, €750 per fortnight (€1,500 in total) was high yet was justified as it included full food and board and all language lessons and activities
"Unfortunately, due to current and expected summer restrictions, the prospect of attending the Gaeltacht is no longer a viable option for students. As such, an alternative has been proposed by a working group established by the Department of Education and Skills and Department of the Gaeltacht," Senator O'Loughlin explained.
"Like its predecessor, it is a two-week language learning course, but the immersive experience, language lessons and activities are now replaced with a fully online experience undertaken in students' homes - all for a cost of €650 per fortnight (€1,300 in total), an exorbitant price given the course provider now will not have to incur the cost of food, lodgings and room rental generally associated with the Gaeltacht experience.
"To me, this did not make sense on any level, and very unfair on these students. I engaged with the Minister for Education Norma Foley, and am very pleased to have a successful outcome in that Hibernia can devise and run the course for their students, resulting in no extra cost to the student. I very much appreciate the quick action of the Minister in this regard," Senator O'Loughlin concluded.