Funding must match goals in education

 

Sir, – Earlier this week, the Action Plan for Education 2017 was published. However, considerable additional investment must be made if the stated aim of the country’s education system being the best in Europe in a decade is to be realised.

Over several years, a range of cutbacks has inflicted severe damage.

At second level, for example, the general erosion of middle-management support positions, such as year-head posts and cuts to guidance counselling provision, have had a harmful effect on the educational experience of students.

In the further education sector, capitation rates for Youthreach, Vocational Training Opportunities Scheme (VTOS) and in Post-Leaving Certificate (PLC) colleges have been cut, while an artificial cap on PLC places and a €200 charge continue to act as an impediment to participation for many potential students.

Meanwhile, at third level, the effects of deep funding cuts have long since reached crisis point, with a 10 per cent cut in institute of technology lecturer numbers over a time period when student numbers have risen by 32 per cent, or over 21,000.

Unless such measures are reversed and all future initiatives are underpinned by the required resourcing, we will struggle to keep pace with the education systems of our European and OECD counterparts.

The fact that we have more than held our own so far is eloquent testament to the commitment and professional excellence of our teachers and lecturers.

However, their energy and capacity to improvise and innovate in a grossly under-resourced environment is not inexhaustible and cannot continue to be taken for granted. – Yours, etc,

JOANNE IRWIN,

President,

Teachers’ Union

of Ireland (TUI),

Orwell Road,

Rathgar,

Dublin 6.