Education for all!

Education cuts show that the government is willing to do anything to ensure that their friends, the wealthy elite who caused this crisis, get a bailout even if it means that thousands of young people will not receive the opportunity of a full and comprehensive education. Many third level institutions are at crisis point due to underfunding, lay-offs and cuts to classes.

Consequently, we have an outrageous scenario that despite the existence of mass youth unemployment, the thousands of Leaving Certificate students who have applied for a place in third level are not guaranteed a place in further education.

The “smart economy” is a phrase often hypocritically bandied about by ministers and government TDs.  essentially, it is a rather vague and ill-defined framework for economic recovery which, according to the government’s Innovation Taskforce, relies on “intensifying foreign direct investment in high-value areas” and “fostering entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation across the economy and society as a whole.”

However, as the government knows well, the likelihood that multinational companies who are currently leaving Ireland en masse, in order to take advantage of lower paid workforces elsewhere will invest here is low. The “smart economy” plan isn’t smart at all. It’s no more than a collection of empty promises designed to help government TDs and ministers bluster their way through a period of massive unpopularity.

Socialist Youth pledges to fight alongside students against the savage attacks of the wealthy elite. Instead of cuts to, and commercialisation of, education we stand for a socialist society, in which education would be free from preschool to post secondary level and organised by those involved: the parents, pupils, teachers and the local community so that every person can enjoy their right to a decent education.

Children suffer as government set to slash another 500 teaching posts!

By Kate Relihan

The press release by the INTO on 29 June criticising the government’s intention to further implement cuts to EAL (English as an Additional Language) teachers is welcome but quite incredible. The ink was hardly dry on the Croke Park deal when it’s business as usual in terms of the government’s chilling cutbacks.

Our union leaders endorsed this deal “as the least worst option” which disgracefully has become the worst option for thousands of immigrant children, who, come this September, may face withdrawal of another 500 more EAL teaching posts. Leaving a meagre 1,500 EAL teachers for the entire country and this will be reduced to 500 by September 2011!

These savage cutbacks result from the budget of 2009 when the government generally capped a maximum of two EAL teachers per school, and placed a maximum of two years for EAL teaching for all immigrant children, irrespective of ability or learning difficulties.

I have taught as an EAL teacher and I am only too aware of the serious deficiencies in the system. Teaching in a school in which 85% of the children are from immigrant families I have seen the harsh reality of these cuts as we lost three of our six EAL teachers in 2009.

The training for this important area of work is practically nonexistent, the provision for EAL is often poorly co-ordinated and even haphazard, textbook choices are at a minimum, and there is no access to assessing an EAL child with learning difficulties.

Such stark cutbacks are having serious and far-reaching implications across the country. The rapid and drastic reduction in EAL teachers will further marginalise already vulnerable immigrant children, and is dooming thousands to potential educational failure as they struggle to keep up in class sizes which are the highest in Europe.

If Sheila Nunan and the INTO leadership are sincere in their condemnation of these cuts then they must organise a militant campaign to defeat them.