Funding uncertainty for post primary further education colleges must be addressed
Labour Education spokesperson Aodhán Ó Ríordáin raised today at the special Covid-19 committee the funding uncertainty for post-primary further education colleges with roll numbers with the Department of Education but who will transfer to the new Department of Higher Education.
Deputy Ó Ríordáin said:
“At the Covid committee today I raised concerns with officials about what type of financial package would be provided for the reopening of schools, and whether it will include post-primary colleges in the further education sector that have a roll number.
“As the Department of Higher Education doesn’t legally exist yet, these will transfer there eventually, but are treated at the moment as schools for administrative purposes. There doesn’t seem to be any sense of how this will be managed in the new school year.
“Fianna Fáil sought the creation of this new Department but don’t seem to have considered how it will impact on the PLC sector at all. The two new Ministers need to urgently address this and what kind of financial package would be put in place.
“I also raised the digital divide in the sector as about 30% of students have no IT connectivity, and that in many disadvantaged schools 60% are accessing learning through a phone device. There was no commitment to a contingency that would address this if schools don’t reopen fully in September.
“On the issue of teacher absences I raised whether all time would be substitutable and how classes would be taught in that situation, and in particular how job sharing teachers would be able to provide cover. The Secretary General told me it was something they were looking at.
“Another issue is the problem of students who are not eligible for predictive grades because they are taking the subject outside of their school. The only alternative being put forward is for the student to sit a written exam at a later date.”