Government restores €1.8m teacher Gaeltacht grants

In the region of 2,400 student teachers to benefit from the measure in first year

Students have been funding the mandatory placement themselves at a cost of up to €1,500 per student.

Students have been funding the mandatory placement themselves at a cost of up to €1,500 per student.

 

The Government is to restore a grant scheme it abolished in 2011 to pay the fees of student teachers attending Irish-language courses in the Gaeltacht.

The four weeks such teachers spend in Gaeltacht areas as part of their degree is considered an essential component of their training. It allows them the opportunity to improve their Irish-language skills in an immersive setting.

The grant was abolished in December 2011 as a cost-saving measure in response to the financial crisis and it led to students having to fund the mandatory placement themselves since then at a cost of up to €1,500 per student.

A spokesperson for the Department of Education and Skills said the Minister has committed to funding “the full cost of the Gaeltacht placement for undergraduate and post-graduate students” in State-funded primary initial teacher education programmes with effect from the next academic year.

The overall cost is estimated by the department to be €1.8m and approximately 2,400 student teachers are expected to benefit from the measure in the first year.

‘We are delighted’

Welcoming the policy reversal, Clíodhna Ní Dhufaigh who is leas-Uachtarán don Ghaeilge in the Union of Students in Ireland said: “We are delighted that the grant has been reinstated . . . This means that under-graduate students will not have to worry about gathering another €1,500 over the four years they spend in college.”

“It will obviously help a lot of students but it doesn’t cover PME (Professional Master of Education) students so we will continue to work in order to get the grant reinstated for them.”

Conradh na Gaeilge said the policy change would have a wider impact. “There will be benefits for the economy of the Gaeltacht areas also, which have suffered from a long-standing lack of investment,” said Conradh na Gaeilge president Niall Comer.

"The efforts to restore the grant are another illustration of a successful outcome from working collaboratively and that government decisions can be positively influenced - and for this reason the Union of Students in Ireland should be particularly commended for their role in this campaign," he added.