Angry students have protested in Limerick at a new government charge which will see them having to pay €750 towards the cost of a three week trip to the Gaeltacht to learn Irish.
Students at Mary Immaculate teacher training college carried out the protest after it emerged that students have been left to foot the entire cost of the training course.
“We can’t pay that rate. You will have to ask the state” chanted student teachers on being told this week they would have to pay €1500 for compulsory Irish courses, over a two year period
Up to this year all primary teachers were obliged to attend a three week language course in the Gaeltacht as part of their training and government funded these. Currently course attendance is a compulsory part of a trainee teacher’s course without which they cannot graduate.
From this year on, the funding is to be withdrawn leaving the students to foot the entire cost in addition to the student registration charge and the course time is to be extended to four weeks.
This will see students having to pay the entire expense of the placements which could cost up to €750 in their first year and a further €750 in the second year.
Darragh Wynne President of the Students’ Union in Mary Immaculate College Limerick said neither the government nor the Teaching Council had taken the financial position of third level students into account.
“Expecting student teachers to pay €1,500 over two years for a compulsory part of their course on top of the student contribution is unfair and unrealistic and simply not possible in the current economic climate,” he said.
According to the students this results from a lack of joined up thinking for which they are paying the price. The decision to pull the funding was made by the government while the decision to increase the time was made by the Teaching Council.