Dáil Éireann - Volume 268 - 01 November, 1973
Committee on Finance. - Vote 27: Office of the Minister for Education (resumed).
Debate resumed on the following motion:
That a sum not exceeding £10,742,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1974, for the salaries and expenses of the Office of the Minister for Education (including Institutions of Science and Art), for certain miscellaneous educational and cultural services and for payment of sundry grants-in-aid.
—(Minister for Education).
Mr. C. Murphy Mr. C. Murphy
Mr. C. Murphy: I would like to congratulate Deputy R. Ryan on his appointment and wish him well with his Aireacht. I hope we will see the fruits of his efforts and that the children of the nation will benefit in the years to come.
The first point made by the Minister for Education in regard to this Estimate  was that 71 per cent of the expenditure in his Department is absorbed by salaries and wages. The effectiveness of the educational system ultimately depends on the efficiency of the teachers. It is important that the personnel should be of the highest calibre and that the attractiveness of the position should be increased. The teachers should be involved in policy-making. They should be involved in the direct running of the schools. This, together with increased salaries, would make teaching a more attractive profession.
The teachers' salary scale should be reduced to ten years. They should reach their maximum salary as quickly as possible. The percentage of the budget for salaries and wages is expected to increase at an annual rate of 1 per cent. It is doubtful if this would be sufficient when one considers the necessity for in-service training of teachers. We have had many reports on this matter and much research is being done abroad on the subject.
It is most necessary that teachers be provided with an opportunity to keep abreast of the many changes and the results of the many experiments taking place in education. Parliamentarians frequently comment on the bulk of material on their desks following delivery of the morning's post. It is very difficult to get through it. Teachers find when so many people are taking such interest in education and there is so much adult participation that there is a great bulk of material to be read. I have heard teachers mentioning the difficulty of trying to find the time and opportunity for studying such material. It is hoped that the children of the nation will be better served as a result of all these studies.
I wish to refer to the James Report on in-service training of teachers and on teacher educational training. The report recommends that all teachers should be entitled to release with pay for in-service education on a scale equivalent to not less than one school term every seven years of service and possibly this should be increased to one term in every five years of service. The entitlement should be written into the teachers' contracts of service. The report also recommends that the entitlements  should be satisfied only by release for substantial courses lasting at least four weeks full-time, or approved part-time equivalents. It also recommends that the entitlement should be in addition to shorter-term activities whether or not they involve release from teaching, and these short term opportunities should themselves be substantially expanded.
This would give teachers an opportunity to keep abreast and to know about the latest modern aids available which would help them in their daily tasks and also benefit the nation by looking after the wealth of the nation, its children. Some effort has been made in this direction. Some teachers have been released this year to follow courses of higher study or in-depth courses.
Deputy Faulkner, when he was Minister for Education, set up the teacher centres. He is to be congratulated on that. It was an important step. Teacher centres, while originally, perhaps, slow to get started now seem to be functioning quite well. I cannot recall hearing much about them in the Estimate speech but possibly management of them has moved into the hands of the teachers themselves. In these centres teachers have an atmosphere in which to create and study. There is a spirit conducive to education. Different groups of teachers, first level, second level and probably third level, are not isolated but have a common meeting point to discuss the continuity of pattern in education. I believe there are 12 teacher centres functioning and, having had experience of two of them, I know the idea can be improved and developed. The nucleus is there.
I wish to refer to physical education and the National College of Physical Education. According to the Estimate speech, 200 students are now engaged on a course of study extending over three years and it is anticipated that this number will rise to 400 next year. I think the second subject idea is extremely good; indeed, it is vital to the success of PE so that in years to come we will not have professional, middle-aged casualties when people become less active. This is to  be commended. At present we have a paucity of physical education teachers. If the 200 at present is to be increased to 400, when does the Department anticipate a levelling off? When will the yearly intake drop? Will we still have a viable number? I know we must allow, perhaps, for early retirements, exodus into other walks of life, female teachers probably marrying and, perhaps, subsequently not being involved in physical education. I know this is covered to some extent—and I am delighted to see it —by the fact that the college will be expanded into an institution for the preparation of teachers of many subjects but the question remains, will we have a viable number in six, seven or eight years' time? Will the demand be there?
I was very impressed by the various facilities available at the National College of Physical Education. It is wonderful that teachers in other fields who would be engaged there will have an opportunity of availing of this wonderful institution or college, as it is at present.
I have really been dealing principally with particular aspects of adult education and I should now like to refer to the general field of adult education. Under our present educational system pupils begin at four years of age and most of the opportunities and choices have been taken up by the time they reach the age of 23, 24 or 25. The opportunities have been distributed to a great extent before work, travel and various other stimuli have operated on the individual. We are then posed with the problem—I know the Minister has it in mind—of recurrent education. Should all the choices be complete at that early age or should they be spread out over an individual's life span? Choice is the key to the situation. Would it be better for an individual to have an opportunity to work or to travel and know that he or she has not sacrificed later access to education? This would not be the case if the opportunities were spread over a life span.
I should like to quote from a report on “Recurrent Education—A Solution To The Crisis of Education?” by  J. R. Gass, Director, OECD Centre for Research and Innovation, as reported in the OECD Observer, No. 64 of June, 1973. It states:
the forced choice between continued education in full-time institutions or a cold plunge into the labour force is hardly a worthy social response to the complex abilities and aspirations of the young adolescents of today.
Further on, it says:
exposure to work or other active social experience leads in many individuals to a crystallisation of personal consciousness in terms of motivation, ambition, hope and will —why distribute all the educational opportunities before this takes place?
for many young people today the world beyond the school is a strange and somewhat fearful place—more bridges are needed.
although the links between education and society today are generally conceived of in terms of education for specific careers, many people develop in an entirely different direction after their entry into work.
women are in a particularly difficult position because we educate them more, and then face them with the agonising choice between family and career.
there is a rapidly growing number of professional middle-aged casualties because qualifications fall behind the demands of economic and technological change.
retirement is a serious personal crisis for many individuals, for which some form of educational preparation is needed.
When we consider these points serious doubt is cast on the system we have at present, a system where most opportunities have been exhausted by the age of 25.
This is a professional man of high repute: J.R. Gass. It might be just as well to think about conclusions. I should like to give a second lengthy quote from this text:
Since the crucial point in the process of social selection is in  educational opportunities in the 16-19 age group, a reform of upper secondary education is indispensable. The crucial question here is whether, in the future, resources will be allocated not only to extensions of the school leaving age in the traditional system, but also to developing a wider and more flexible range of options for young people, with subsidised work experience or organised social service as a component of learning situations.
Such a reform could not succeed unless employers take a more constructive view of employment prospect and career patterns for young people. The forced choice between military service, the university and boring repetitive jobs is a major source of present difficulties.
That is not quite apt in the present situation in Ireland.
An Ceann Comhairle Seán Treacy
An Ceann Comhairle: I dislike interrupting the Deputy and I do not want to inhibit him in any way, but I must advise him that very long quotations could hardly be deemed to be in order.
Mr. C. Murphy Mr. C. Murphy
Mr. C. Murphy: I will just give one more, if I may. It goes on:
Post-compulsory educational facilities (and not least the universities) must be open and geared to the needs of both young people and adults.
We see straight away that dialogue is important if we are to change from the concept of education which we have at the moment: dialogue between those who are directly involved socially in this, educational groups, labour groups and sub-groups within them of employers, trade unions, teachers and parents. It is a quite radical approach but nevertheless it merits quite a lot of consideration. Greater opportunities are now available for our young people and many of them wish to grasp them before being forced directly to the university. There is anxiety over whether a grant would still be available if not taken immediately.  These are aspects of adult education. I note that the Minister did not deal with it at any great length. I accept his explanation that he is waiting on the report of the special committee. While I realise that a full report will be available for the experts, since this is a very topical report involving each and every individual in the country, perhaps a shorter report might be made available for the layman in the form of a summary. I mean no disrespect to the ladies and gentlemen of the Press when I say they come up with summaries in the media. This poses the question: are reports read? If they are very technical obviously they are not. I look forward to this report on adult education. I know that many groups throughout the country have been making efforts in this direction and all praise is due to them for their efforts. At the same time this is only scratching the surface.
Moving from that aspect of adult education I should like to come back to the opposite end of the scale and deal with pre-school groups and nursery schools. I wonder is it anticipated that the Department of Education will take these categories under their all-embracing arm in time. At the moment there are many of these off-shoots in various centres such as private houses, halls, extensions and converted garages and many of them seem to be under no jurisdiction or control. I wonder is it proper that a child should be allowed into a system like that at the age of four years.
I know that the play group association have regulations. Indeed, they are to be admired. They welcome interested parties and offer expert advice. I would encourage those who have kindergarten and pre-school groups to obtain their literature and make contact with them. It is not sufficient for us to set ourselves up as experts in this line because we must consider that we are preparing young minds for life. It is essential that they get the correct exposure at a young age.
Moving further into first level primary education we find that numerous and various problems  abound from the rural areas with declining populations to the vastly expanding areas of the east coast and other major cities and towns throughout the country. We have a problem of space and numbers. We must have a criterion somewhere. The criterion should be that it is the young person who is important, not social pressures or pressure groups. I note that the Minister in his opening speech dealt with the re-opening of Dún Chaoin school. I was somewhat disappointed by the wording used by the Minister. Certain words have connotations for Irish people, notably the word “Cromwell”. The word “pleadings” is emotive. The Minister said:
...insensitivity prevailed and Scoil Dhún Chaoin fell victim to an attitude that was almost Cromwellian in its relentlessness.
Mr. G. Collins Mr. G. Collins
Mr. G. Collins: He was playing to the gallery.
Mr. C. Murphy Mr. C. Murphy
Mr. C. Murphy: He went on:
The pleadings of this intensely Gaelic community on the westernmost tip of Europe...
This is an area in which I spent many happy days of my childhood in the pursuit of a knowledge of the language and I was disappointed that this should be the Minister's approach. At Question Time recently in answer to a question I discovered that the number involved is eight. I do not think this is a viable number. We must go back to the idea that it is the child who is important. No amount of pressure should have had this school re-opened. Group teaching is not possible for this number. It was a reflection on Gaeilge Baile an Fheirtéaraigh to a certain extent. We would all like to see Dún Chaoin revitalised. Is it viable? I should like to quote from the Minister's speech on the Estimate:
We cannot afford to squander so precious a part of our living cultural heritage merely to justify an administrative decision which may have been taken in quite good faith but was mistaken and unwise.
I do not think we were squandering a part of our living cultural heritage  when we transferred children from Dún Chaoin to Scoil Baile an Fheirtéaraigh.
In my constituency minor adjustments will have to be made, painful though they might be to this party. We will pilot a safe course and visit each school and district. Schools were closed in the remoter areas in southern Wicklow. The people realised it was inevitable because numbers had dropped to around eight. Until recently there was a pocket of Irish speakers in the Wicklow area.
Arklow also has pressing educational and building problems. The Minister should reconsider purchasing the field which is available in Wicklow town. I know £40,000 seems a lot of money but in a few years the site will be worth more. It is located left of the main road approaching the town and adjacent to the vocational building. The church bodies own the land and it is reported that it has been bought for a supermarket. A supermarket is needed in the town but I would query its location.
In the next few years 3,000 new houses will be built in the Wicklow town area. This gives one an idea of the space available. If it is a final decision that the site will not be secured for educational purposes, are we not only putting off the day when we will have a problem there? The Wicklow Vocational Education Committee claim that they do not have room for expansion although there is a need for it.
Let us consider Rathdrum, one of the catchment areas of Wicklow. That school is a disgrace and has been for some time. A decision was taken either to close it or make it a junior school. If it is closed those pupils will be transferred to Wicklow. Why not transfer them to Arklow? On completion of the intermediate certificate a number of these pupils will move to Wicklow. If another 70 pupils are transferred, where will they go? The space is not there. The Department should consider purchasing the field. It is a wonderful location for a school. Let us not give our youth a concrete jungle, let us give them green pastures  and foliage. The Parliamentary Secretary should give some thought to that subject. It is a burning problem in my constituency.
The Parliamentary Secretary has received a report from the Wicklow Vocational Education Committee dealing with Dunlavin and its difficulties. He met three TDs and a deputation from the VEC on the matter of school problems. We were delighted to go along to discuss these problems. There is a new twist to the problems whereby the staff at Dunlavin are not willing to go ahead with them. I hope a positive decision will be taken in that direction. Otherwise we will have an industrial dispute on our hands. I have received a copy of a circular, and if the Parliamentary Secretary has not got one I will be very happy to forward one to him. We should try to anticipate problems and solve them before they arise. Often decisions are taken which simply defer the problems.
I should like to discuss secondary education. I do not intend to take this subject by subject, nor will I take it according to my own specialities. When dealing with second level education we are straightaway into viable members for junior and senior cycles. We can see the need for rationalisation here. This is the only way in which a wide choice, which is so important to all our young scholars, can be given. We require a comprehensive education at this level. Secondary students suffer a good deal of pressure at intake. They come from a more flexible system suddenly to find themselves in a system where direction control is all vital: pressure from the word go to get through examinations, unfortunately. At the terminal end, we have the universities suggesting that perhaps first year university level might be integrated into the final year at secondary school or an extra year.
Much pressure is brought to bear on students. The Minister showed an awareness of this when he spoke of the disadvantage of emphasising the question of passes or honours. But  does the decision taken earlier by the present administration to grant double grading for Gaeilge agus litríocht na Gaeilge not push people further into thinking of education in terms of the number of passes and honours achieved? I suggest it does and that less emphasis is being placed on true educational values. The decision of the Government was only a gimmick and one that would mean nothing to a prospective employer. Let us think of the situation whereby a candidate for a post can claim five passes, made up of three passes in subjects other than Irish and Irish counting as two while another candidate may have passed in five subjects, not regarding the double pass for Irish. It is in such case that the gimmick fails. We know which of the two candidates the employer would choose. It is to be regretted that this decision was taken by the Government.
Cad mar gheall ar na téacsanna a bhí le fáil ins na scoileanna? Dúradar liom—agus creidim é freisin— nach raibh baint idir na téacsanna a bhí leagtha síos ag an Roinn Oideachais don cúrsa Gaeilge agus gnáthshaol na ndaltaí. Tá a fhios agam go bhfuil athrú dhá dhéanamh anois acht cén baint atá ag leabhair de shaghas Niamh nó Brian Óg, cé gur leabhair mhaithe iad freisin, le gnathshaol na ndaltaí? Cruithneacht agus Ceannabháin, an leabhar maith é sin do dhaltaí scoile? Nílim dhá rá nach leabhair mhaithe iad. Is leabhair mhaithe iontu féin iad agus ls leabhair spéisiúla iad ach ó thaobh cúrsaí scoile dhe an leabhair mhaithe iad?
Failtím roimh breis eile marcanna a bheith ag gabháil le triail bhéil na Gaeilge, sé sin, labhairt na Gaeilge agus tá súil agam go mbeidh ardú i mbliana freisin sa líon marc a bheidh ag gabháil le labhairt, caint, cruinneas agus aclaíocht teanga. Tá súil agam go mbeidh sin ann i mbliana freisin. B'fhéidir gur mhaith an rud é leath de na marcanna sa scrúdú a bheith ag dul don scríbhneoireacht agus an leath eile don chaint.
Polasaí maith atá ag teastáil agus ba cheart cuspóir a thúirt do dhaoine chun an Ghaeilge a labhairt agus a  chur in úsáid. Ansan chífidís go raibh maitheas ann agus bheadh cuspóir nó aidhm acu, rud nach bhfuil acu i láthair na huaire. Ba cheart an bhéim a chur ar líofacht cainte. Sin é an rud atá ag teastáil uainn. Éirígí as bheith ag gabháil don Ghaeilge. Féach ar an rud a rinne sibh—dhá onóracha sa Ghaeilge agus scoil Dhún Chaoin. Éirígí as na seifteanna sin ar son an náisiúin, ar son na teanga agus ar son muintir na hÉireann.
Mr. C. Murphy Mr. C. Murphy
Mr. C. Murphy: Bhuel, más mian leat. Ní fheadar an mbeadh aon tagairt domsa ann. Má chuirtear an bhéim ar an gcaint beidh ciall ansin. Tá daoine in ann an Ghaeilge a scríobh agus níl siad in ann í a labhairt. D'fheadfadh rang sáthach lag a bheith ag múinteoir. Tá na tuismitheoirí agus anois an Roinn Oideachais ag caint faoi dhá onóracha. Má fhághann siad pas beidh cos ar bolg dhá himirt ar an múinteoir agus ní bheidh dul as aige ach pas a ghnóthú, más féidir é, do na daltaí sin gan an teanga a thúirt dóibh. I anticipate a course in Irish will be introduced but I hope it will not be a substitute for the language. I hope this will not be a threesome. We have already had part 1 and 2.
A very important aspect of life which has come now with the shortening of the working week is leisure-time. How people spend their leisure hours is something which we must consider. Unfortunately no part of the formal educational programme trains people how to spend their leisure hours to advantage. Do our citizens spend too much of their leisure time watching TV—at a James Bond-helicopter-type of escapism?
This is not sufficient. We should train our people in the correct use of their leisure time and if we succeed in doing that we will improve the quality of our stock. In training people for leisure time the subject of civics comes to mind. I am aware that various pressure groups are anxious that civics should be added to an already overcrowded syllabus but the time factor will not allow this. It is wonderful in practice but in theory it will not work. It is something we cannot do.
 However, we should motivate people and stimulate them so that later they will contribute positively to our society in their leisure time. In the formal classtime for civics an interesting debate may be held or a current topic discussed but only a short time is allotted for such discussions. However, in the few minutes which a teacher might steal from the formal time allotted to another subject he or she will be sowing the correct seed which will lead to this growing and flourishing in the mind later. I do not suggest that a long period should be devoted to civics but certainly a limited amount of class time should be devoted to this subject. In my view this would give a truer education.
Visits to the theatre, community involvement, exhibitions and discussions on future careers are projects which are good and should be encouraged. For the girls visits to hospitals would be most beneficial. Quite often a pupil of leaving certificate age will say, in reply to a question as to her intentions on leaving school, that she intends taking up nursing as a career. Very often these girls have no idea of the work involved in nursing. Visits to hospitals, if they were in order, would give a person an insight into nursing and other careers followed in hospitals.
For boys visits should be arranged to factories and other centres which would give them an idea of what career they should follow. Why leave the choice in a void? Why not cement it? Some leisure time could be utilised for this purpose.
I am aware that many schools and colleges at present invite experts to address pupils, particularly those in 5th and 6th year. These are experts in their own field but they can only deal with theory. I accept that this is the best that many of these schools can do given the opportunities that are available, and the grants and subsidies available, but, in my view, it is only a scratching of the surface in this matter.
As I mentioned earlier, teacher centres are an excellent idea but this idea is slow to develop. I was disappointed that what I consider to be a  good idea, one which was put forward by the present Minister for Foreign Affairs, Deputy FitzGerald, during the debate on the Estimate for this Department on 17th February 1972, details of which I obtained from the Official Report of that date, in Volume 254, was not carried through. The nucleus of Deputy FitzGerald's point was that Fine Gael policy on education, published six or seven years previously, proposed a grant of £100 be given to a brilliant child coming from a disadvantaged home. Speaking in present-day terms I feel this figure would have risen to £175 or £200. Having read that debate in advance of receiving a copy of the Minister's speech I looked forward eagerly to such an idea being put into operation but, to my dismay, it did not feature in the Minister's proposals. I suggest that this idea should be revived. At the time it was estimated that such a scheme would not cost a great deal.
We have a certain amount of wastage in education. A lot of it is unwarranted. I am aware of the difficulties involved in having these loose ends tied up because certain people are not going to be pleased. However, now the party, and the people, who a few years ago were in the wonderful position to set out to please everybody have discovered that with the responsibilities of government all these things are not possible. You are down to the hard cash end of it and all the grandiose ideas trotted out as manna over the years seem to have disappeared. You are down to reality. The burdens of office have been brought to bear on those who are now the Government. This is illustrated in one short paragraph in the Minister's opening statement:
These two inescapable items... consume our entire resources, so that there is very little scope for the introduction of new concepts in education.
The burdens of office have given the answer. Congratulations.
Hand and eye co-ordination is very  important. Recently I had the pleasure of opening an art exhibition in Arklow. The proceeds will be devoted to the Cheshire Homes. It was an experience to see the interest this exhibition aroused.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle Denis Francis Jones
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Deputies must not interrupt. The Deputy in possession must be allowed to speak without interruption. Every Deputy who wishes to speak will get an opportunity of speaking.
Mr. C. Murphy Mr. C. Murphy
Mr. C. Murphy: I believe the educational system has brought about this awareness on the part of people. Art is no longer a subject of secondary importance. It is reaching its correct position in the syllabus. In earlier years there was not any great emphasis on art but a more enlightened approach has become noticeable in the last few years. Art is finding its correct perspective now. The importance of hand and eye co-ordination cannot be over emphasised. Indeed it has led to a demand for a certain amount of decentralisation of the Arts. People can now see literally on their own doorsteps works of art which stimulate and educate them in a very pleasurable way.
A previous speaker referred to the availability of slides in schools. This is a good idea. It might be costly but the benefits would be tremendous. Visual aids are many and varied. The excellent programmes put out by RTE on Telefís Scoile are a great advantage. The programmes have been augmented this year. Audio-visual aids arouse a greater interest and a deeper awareness in the pupil. The teacher acts as a director co-ordinating the particular subject and the pupils have the benefit of observing the real professional at work. Tremendous benefits can be derived from these aids. They could be used to bring the archives to the attention of our young people. Valuable material may be lying around in which interest could be aroused. I have had the experience of pupils bringing along an old school roll book, somewhat tattered, tracing families back for  years to the time when Irish was first introduced and there is a date and a note “Teacher, leave of absence; Irish course.” Fifty years later we have a system which, while it is not perfect, has certainly achieved a certain purpose and, to a certain extent, I am a witness to that system. I did not have a choice of birthplace which would give me Gaeilge ón gcliabhán. That would have been a wonderful thing to me. The important thing is that one should be able to express oneself in a language.
Mr. C. Murphy Mr. C. Murphy
Mr. C. Murphy: Más mian leat é. An bhfuil sibh dhá rá liom go bhfuil Gaeilge Dhún Chaoin níos fearr ná Gaeilge Bhaile an Fheirtéirigh? Bígí cúramach leis an líon daoine atá ann siúd is go bhfuil rud eígin sa phost ar maidin.
Mr. C. Murphy Mr. C. Murphy
Mr. C. Murphy: Ní chreideann tusa an tAire Oideachais dála an scéil a mhic ó. Ní dóigh liom go gcreideann tú ach b'fhéidir go gcreideann.
Mr. C. Murphy Mr. C. Murphy
Mr. C. Murphy: I Scoil Dhún Chaoin tá ochtar páiste—cúigear ón áit sin agus triúr a tógadh isteach ó áit eígin eile. An ndéanfaidh sin aon mhaitheas do na daltaí? Sin é an príomh-rud.
Bhí caint mar gheall ar gach dalta den chúigear as an áit—dalta a haon duine an-thábhachtach seas go bhfaighe sé flúirseacht, gach tairbhe atá ag ghabhaíl leis an teanga. Seans go bhfuighe dálta a dó gach maitheas atá sa chóras oideachais. Maidir le dalta a trí, a stuaim féin atá i gceist, a mheoin féin atá i gceist ach go bhfuil cultúr níos tábhachtaí ná aithbheo a aigne ná dul chun cinn dalta a trí agus ó thaobh an dálta seo dhe freisin fé mar adúradh liom ós rud é go bhfuil Gaeilge agus b'fhéidir as seo amach teanga, cultúr agus litríocht Baile an Fheirtéirigh ar chomh-chéim le Dún Caoin.
An bhfuil siad ar chomh-céim? An aon mhaitheas dóibh a bheith i scoil Dhún Chaoin seachas a bheith i Scoil  Bhaile an Fheirtéirigh. Maidir le dalta a ceathair go bhfuil 12 bliain slánaithe aige agus go bhfuil teangmháil aige le daoine níos óige ná é, an bhfuil daltaí a linne féin ann chun gríosadh a thabhairt dó dul chun cinn a dhéanamh? Ní chreidim go bhfuil. Maidir le dalta a cúig b'fhéidir go bhfuil an t-ádh leis. B'fhéidir gur duine sáthach óg é agus go bhfuil triúr níos aosta ná é ann. Leanann na daoine óga ar aghaidh go dtagann siad suas leis na daoine atá níos aosta ná iad. Bhuel, b'fhéidir go mbeidh seans aige sin acht níl a fhios agam. B'fhéidir go bhfuil a fhios ag an Aire nó ag Rúnaí Parlaiminte an Aire Oideachais cén réim aoise atá sa scoil sin agus bí cinnte dhe gur duine tábhachtach gach dalta den chúigear nó den ochtar sin. Cá bhfuil mealladh agus gríosadh aige ansin.
Mr. Coogan Mr. Coogan
Mr. Coogan: Táimid an-tsásta le h-obair an Aire agus an Rúnaí Parlaiminte. Tá na múinteoirí an-tsásta freisin leis an obair atá á déanamh acu.
In the last few days we have had one pedagogue after another standing up and speaking as though they were on the rostrum. From what I have heard of some of the Opposition speakers I should not like to have my child attend any of their schools——
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle Denis Francis Jones
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: The Deputy must not reflect personally on any Member in the House.
Mr. Coogan Mr. Coogan
Mr. Coogan: I am casting a reflection on the system. The Opposition speakers have been standing up one after the other and it has been like the Wailing Wall. Fianna Fáil were in power for 15 years but now they want instant solutions for everything. They were strangely silent in the last 15 years.
This Estimate ranges over many subjects, from junior school to university level, and it deals with vocational schools and the National Gallery. On the latter item, there are many exhibits there that are worth seeing and it is time we arranged for exhibitions throughout the country. There are many small folk museums and these would be an ideal place to hold exhibitions. People may not be able to travel  to Dublin and, when they have an appreciation of artistic matters, they should be allowed the opportunity to hold local exhibitions.
It is very easy to say the Minister must build schools but we must consider the legacy he has been left. Many of the existing schools are in a most dilapidated condition and he is faced with the problem of reconstructuring those buildings to cope with the present number of pupils as well as the erection of buildings for new pupils. When one considers the legacy that has been left to him by Fianna Fáil he would need two Estimates to cope with the problem.
There has been talk about a merger of university colleges. This is a sensible suggestion and in the interests of the taxpayers it should be pursued. Students attending the universities should make good use of their opportunities and not waste the time of the professors and their own time. We do not want the taxpayer's money to be spent on some of the antics we have seen going on in this city in the last few weeks. I realise one must allow for a certain amount of high spirits. I remember how University Rag Day was spent in my own city. Some of the well-known professional people to-day may look disapprovingly at some of the capers of the students of to-day but I saw them years ago dusting flour over old ladies or painting young girls with polish. I saw some of the capers of those men. They were no better than the young men at present. Dissenters always hang around colleges. They may be hangers-on or slackers who waste their own time and the money of the people. We should take note of them and say “Get out”.
There has been talk about preparing ourselves for the EEC and gearing ourselves for the Common Market. There are many executives walking around factories in white coats. I often wonder how they became experts. Industries have been closed down by these gentlemen and the workers have taken over. We have seen the results. The workers have delivered  the goods. They have set the factories working at high speed and proved that the results they produced are better than when the experts were in charge. How can we put people in charge of factories without knowing if they can bring the industry to a viable condition? Common sense sometimes goes a lot further than high falutin' education.
Country Deputies have raised the question of school transport. I live in a tourist district. The parents there live in dread of their children being injured on the roads as they toddle along to school. There are no footpaths. It is galling to see the children refused free transport when the buses are not full. The Parliamentary Secretary should examine the question and some arrangement should be arrived at. The children are walking to school in rain and storm while the buses pass them. It may cost money to provide free school transport for such children, but we must consider the dangers to them.
I should like to congratulate the Minister on his courageous policy in regard to the Irish language. Hypocrisy has been the curse of people in this country. An Irishman can be led but not driven. There have been fanatics who set themselves up as the custodians of our heritage. They have done so for what they can get out of it. Many of them did well. This House is festooned with microphones to interpret the Irish language because the vast majority of the Members have not a word of Irish. Many of the Fianna Fáil Deputies display the Fáinne. There are some men with the Fáinne who are genuine in their love of the language, but the greater number of them are hypocrites. I never saw a Fáinne wearer here who could not speak English. I represent people who have not got a word of English. I have known of young girls applying for posts in Gaeltarra Éireann. These girls have been reared with Irish as their mother tongue. Why were they not successful? They did not get the posts because they had not enough English. As I say “Too far east is west”.
It is about time something was done about the people who have no English.  I meet them every day. These people live in the Gaeltacht. They are intelligent, but they have not been taught any English in the schools. This was Fianna Fáil policy. I have seen these people coming back from England cursing because they had no English. I have heard conversations in Irish in my forge as follows: “Cathain a bheidh Pádraig ar ais ó Shasana?” The answer was: “Beidh sé ar ais an seachtain seo chugain”. The first man then said: “Abair leis gur maith liom dul ar ais leis”. I understood that that meant there was a man who could not manage in Westland Row station because he had not enough English, but he was going back to England with another man who could help him to earn the few bob which he would not get in the Gaeltacht. Again “Too far east is west”. We must encourage love of the language, but it will take a lot to eradicate the hatred engendered by some of the men in the benches opposite.
This Estimate covers a wide field. It covers reformatory schools also. We hear much about young offenders and under-age offenders in Dublin awaiting trial being put into jails. Could something be done to ensure that this would not happen and that the youth would not have to mingle with the hardened criminals? The Parliamentary Secretary should look at this point.
There has been talk about drug abuse. The children have more fear of drugs than we think. I wish to refer to alcohol. Young people seem to think it is the “in” thing to be seen coming out of bars. We are overlooking the greatest drug of all.
There is much death and injury on the roads. First aid should be given greater emphasis in the schools. There is great need for it. There is also need for the teaching of civics. There is much delinquency and it may be associated with the fact that our youth are drinking. We see all these cider groups and so on. There is something lacking in our society. Possibly we need youth centres to keep the young people off the roads. The Parliamentary Secretary has much to do in that respect. I warn him that youth  leaders are born, not trained. We had too many square plugs in round holes in the past. For God's sake, let us get the right material if we want the end product to be as it should be.
Finally, I would remind the Minister that with all the worries he has —and I know he has them—I shall be putting pressure on him in regard to certain school needs in my area. I do not want to delay the House now nor is this the appropriate time or place. I hope to get the Minister's ear on many aspects of the needs of my town.
I almost overlooked the matter of horticulture. This is a very important subject and I would very much like it to be added to the curriculum in our schools. It was there in the past but they do not seem to have time for anything now. I do not know why. Again, I congratulate the Minister and the Parliamentary Secretary. I congratulate the Minister on his courageous approach on the matter of education. He is a man of courage who is prepared to do the right thing. I hope he will continue. God bless him and his work and I say that on behalf of the people of the country.
Mr. Leonard Mr. Leonard
Mr. Leonard: I should first like to wish the Minister well in his office. I hope he will maintain the rate of progress of the previous Government. The previous speaker mentioned that Fianna Fáil were silent for the past 16 years, but I do not see anything wrong with people being silent provided they are working. If the Department of Education were silent they worked very hard in that time. We shall now have a by-election in Monaghan and Deputy Coogan, along with other Deputies, will have an opportunity of viewing at first hand the progress made by the Minister for Education with an almost completely new school building programme. I personally was engaged at parish level in it in my own parish. We have two new schools and the adjoining parishes have two very fine, large schools to cater fully for the needs of the area. If some western areas have not been as progressive in school building it is  a pity, but I think they will get an opportunity.
I have no claim to debate the finer points of the educational system but there are a few points I wish to make, mainly regarding adult education. It has made progress mainly in the cities and larger centres, but in rural areas it has not. This is a great pity as all sections of the population must equip themselves to meet the higher educational requirements of the present day. The Department of Education is remiss in not meeting this need. I admit that the agricultural colleges, the faculties of agriculture in the universities and the agricultural advisors are doing great work to ensure that the best technical advice and information is available, but very little is being done to prepare farmers educationally for the much more demanding life of the seventies. Various farming organisations have made a contribution in this regard but the Department should make a more positive contribution bearing in mind that farming is our largest single industry. While the agricultural advisers make a worthy contribution on technical matters they could not be expected to handle the work involved in raising educational standards, which is not really their job. The Department should not limit itself solely to the education of children and teenagers but should embrace the entire population.
It is now accepted that farm records are essential to efficient farming. It is not enough to tell farmers that they should keep proper form accounts; they must be shown how to keep records and that it will be essential for them to do so. I see no reason why classes could not be organised in primary schools which are not close to towns covering such subjects as book-keeping, public speaking, typing, surveying and so on. I am sure many more subjects could be included with advantage. Courses such as this could be planned in consultation between farming bodies, agricultural advisers and the school authorities so that they would meet local needs. The Minister would probably argue that there would not be sufficient teachers to cope with those  classes but it would not require a commerce graduate for example to provide a simple book-keeping course. Any experienced book-keeper with the ability to impart knowledge would be satisfactory.
In our area there are classes—admittedly not in our own county but just across the Border—for typing, book-keeping, domestic economy, social training and other subjects. People from our parish were also catered for on the Monaghan side, but due unfortunately to the Border trouble these facilities were not availed of to a great extent in the past few years.
There is another aspect which will require a degree of retraining for farmers and others, that is, the introduction of the metric system. The farmer is concerned with a wide range of weights and measures and he will be particularly affected by this changeover. Classes such as those I have outlined would be suitable for the farming community and for other persons who engage in different industrial projects concerned with weights and measures.
In the light of the experience gained by the Department, CIE and parents and teachers in the years since Fianna Fáil introduced the school bus scheme, there is now more scope for more flexibility in its application. I admit that, at the start, firm lines were essential for launching a scheme such as this but it is now firmly established and it should be made more flexible in its operation so that it can meet local needs.
In regard to the many new schools which have been built, little attention would appear to have been paid to sports facilities. While it is true that school sites are costly and that the provision of playing pitches would be an added burden to the cost, this is a need which must be met. Even a short number of years ago, local authority houses were built without bathrooms and that would be unthinkable now. In the future the provision of schools without adequate playing areas will also be unthinkable. This is of particular importance with the elimination of the one- and two-teacher schools.
 It is a dreadful sight to see a large number of children packed into a small schoolyard surrounded by green fields without having adequate space for football or any other sporting activity. I suggest to the Parliamentary Secretary that handball alleys and areas for basketball should be provided. They are excellent schoolyard games. Unless recreational facilities are available close by, the school should be required to have adequate playground facilities.
Physical and mental development should go hand in hand. If we do not provide that, not only are we failing to meet our commitments for today, but we are ensuring that, in the future, it will not be available either because the surrounding area will be built up and will not be available. I know that physical education teachers are scarce and that it takes some time to correct that situation, but we should make space available for sporting facilities when we are procuring sites for schools.
Mr. Griffin Mr. Griffin
Mr. Griffin: I should like to join other Deputies in congratulating our Minister on his elevation to this very important portfolio and to compliment him on the vast amount of work he has done since taking office. He is ideally suited to the position as he has a vast and wide experience of education in all fields. The education of our youth can be safely placed in his hands and the hands of his young Parliamentary Secretary. If he has received attention from the media that, in itself, is a compliment to his own personality and charm. I can quite understand the feelings of the Opposition. They are slightly peeved at the vast amount of coverage he and his Parliamentary Secretary have received since taking office.
As all educationalists will know, teachers have a great influence on the formation of the character of their charges. I know that our Minister will have such an influence on the three-quarters of a million students under his care. They will look to him for guidance and I am sure that guidance will be forthcoming.
His Estimate is for a massive £126  million. This shows an increase of £18 million over last year's Estimate. It caters for 777,000 students. I suppose virtually every household in Ireland is affected in some way or another by this Vote. It augurs well that we as a nation are prepared to invest such a sum in our youth accounting, as it does, for 18.5 per cent of the total voted expenditure on the supply services.
Coming in at the end of a long debate such as this, of necessity, one has to be repetitive. I urge the House to bear with me if some of the points I make have already been made and laboured. I should like to draw attention to some points as we go along. One of the aims of the National Coalition Parties before they assumed office was to have genuine consultations with all concerned in education. That would embrace teachers, management, pupils, parents. I can honestly say that our Minister has set that trend.
Another aim was to transfer to an independent educational body authority for examinations. At the moment the Minister is awaiting a report on this but I am sure that, by this time next year when his Estimate is once more before the Dáil, he will have something to offer on that issue. I will treat later with compulsory Irish, which got a lot of airing today, and our Minister's own personal aim is to give equality of opportunity to all our children, to increase the preentry training to three years, to reduce the size of classes, to make greater provisions for the disadvantaged child and to give the opportunity of second chance education in the extension of the facilities for adult education.
These are all aims and ideals. We can say that our priorities are set right. Perhaps we may not achieve all of them but at least, as long as we are aiming for them, we are on the right course for our children and for the nation as a whole. To achieve these ideals, aims and worthwhile ambitions, we have to recast our administration and management of the educational services and continue with meaningful consultation.
 Reverting back to the Estimate, I am glad to know that at present 5,000 of our students are receiving higher education grants. The Minister has been urged by many of my colleagues on this side of the House to have a second look to see if this very worthwhile scheme can be extended. I suggest that a late fee element be introduced. I have in mind a case where a young lady was four days late in making an application for a higher education grant. She was prevented from attending university. This is a great injustice. If this late fee element were introduced the applicant would be fined a certain sum of money for every day or week she was late and the position where educational chances were frustrated could be avoided. Children have been debarred from receiving a higher education grant on income grounds. This is often based on rateable valuation. The Minister and his Department should look for an alternative basis because to equate rateable valuation with income, as we all know, is not a fair comparison.
I know a family where the first son was debarred from receiving a higher education grant. I made representations that a second son who also qualified educationally would not be so debarred, but in vain. Because the first son was already attending university at his parents' expense I had hoped that that would be taken into account but it was not.
The system of school transport has been adequately dealt with. It is heartening to note that there are 143,000 students receiving free school transport. I join with my colleagues in urging that, if at all possible, free transport be given to all students in the more remote areas. Deputy Coogan made the point that children were passed on the road by buses which were half full. Perhaps a second look at the reorganisation of the scheme would improve it. At this time of the year the Department are inundated with applications for free school transport. Between now and the next school year I suggest that the Minister and his Department examine  catchment area by catchment area to see if more children can be facilitated at the same cost. I welcome the Minister's intention to have a closer look to see if by increased integration worthwhile economies can be made. I know of instances where children have to be at pick-up points at 8 a.m. This necessitates a rise at 7 a.m. They are returned to the pick-up point at 5 p.m. and get home at 5.30 or 6 p.m. Those children are absent from home from approximately 7.30 a.m. to 6 p.m. each school day. Could anything be done to ensure that they do not need to leave home so early in the morning and be returned home so late in the evening?
There was a notice in today's paper about the death of a child who was knocked down when alighting from a school bus. Perhaps a large neon sign could be put on school buses to give on-coming motorists advance notice that children are disembarking. But children being children they will dash across the road despite the efforts of the drivers and teachers to stop them. You cannot put an old head on young shoulders and so it behoves us and the Department to try to avoid such situations.
I was pleased to learn from the Minister's Estimate speech that, for the first time ever, provision is being made for blind, deaf and mentally handicapped children to visit their homes regularly. Perhaps the Minister would also give travelling permits to parents who wish to visit their children in these institutions. This will enable them to be in touch with their children continuously. Bus and train fares are so expensive that no matter how much the parents may wish to visit their children they are debarred from doing so because of the exorbitant fares. I hope the Minister will consider this suggestion.
I am interested in the paragraph of the Minister's speech dealing with inspectors. With the introduction of the new terminology I suggest that instead of the word “inspector” the Minister introduce the word “adviser” or “co-ordinator”. I am not casting a slur on the inspectors working in the Department. I am aware that the word  “inspector” conjures up an attitude of antagonism or creates a barrier between the teacher and the inspector. I have the interests of the teachers and inspectors at heart and that is why I make this suggestion. The inspectors have been trained in a certain system and perhaps it is beyond their power to free themselves. It is up to the Minister and his officials to help them do so.
One aspect of school inspection is held in abhorrence by most teachers. It is mean, and even degrading, that every five years there is a general examination. I do not know of any other professional body or group in which professionals must undergo a similar examination. This is a slur on the honesty of the teachers. I urge the Minister to do away with this examination. There are other minor details, aggravating as they are to the teachers, such as scéim seachtaine scéimeanna míosúla which, I would like the Minister, in a bold and imaginative mood, to do away with so that the inspectors can be welcomed, as they should be, into every classroom in Ireland and that the last barrier be broken down between the inspector and the teacher.
I agree fully with the Minister when he says there is need for expansion of An Gúm. I made representations earlier in the year to the Minister on behalf of an Irish speaking college in South Tipperary. The 365 girls in that college were at a great disadvantage in not having an adequate supply of Irish textbooks so that there was waste of time during classes in translating to Irish from English textbooks. If we are to encourage our young boys and girls to have a love for the Irish language, we must at least facilitate them in every way possible.
I am pleased to note also that there is an increase of £70,000 for youth and sport organisations and that 56 such organisations are involved. Because of increasing leisure time it is important that we educate our youth to use this leisure time both to their own and to the nation's advantage. Therefore, we should endeavour to put even more funds at the disposal of youth organisations so that they may have greater equipment, that they may conduct  coaching and training courses and that youth leadership courses be made available to a wider range of our young people. In the long run investment of this nature will repay us a hundredfold in that we will have mature youth, a maturity that will be reflected in all walks of our society. The Parliamentary Secretary is responsible for this aspect of the policy. I compliment him on what he has done to date and urge him to concentrate on some of the points I have raised.
There was a very worthwhile article in The Irish Times of October 31, 1973. It was written by Conor P. O'Brien and when I glanced at it first I thought it had been written by our eminent Minister, Dr. Cruise-O'Brien. The article shows clearly the inadequacies of our library system and I recommend the Minister and his staff to read what is said in this regard. Apparently, there is a great lack of space in the National Library. It is understaffed and there are not available the necessary facilities for the processing of new acquisitions or for displaying those that are there already. Also, the facilities for binding and document repair are next to none. I quote from the article referred to:
The German archivist, Kahlenberg, described the National Library as follows... “Passing through the entrance hall... the foreign visitor will very soon be terrified by the bad conditions under which the most valuable private paper collections and manuscripts are in fact stored.”
While the National Library is included in the Estimate it must, of necessity, be very low in order of priorities. I suggest that some other Department assume responsibility for it so that it could be given the prominence it is due. While the National Library must compete with such projects as the building of schools it will always be rated as a very poor last. Therefore, the first prerequisite is that it be transferred, if not to another Department, at least to some other section of the Department of Education.
Both the National Library and the Museum should be encouraged to advertise  for documents and museum pieces so that people will be aware of how much importance we attach to these treasures and also so that none will be lost to posterity.
A pamphlet issued in June last by the Institute of Professional Civil Servants deals with the Museum service. While I would not agree fully with many of their recommendations, there is a need for the setting up throughout Ireland of branch museums. I am somewhat alarmed at the fall in the figures of attendance at our Museum. The last figures quoted, for 1970-71, showed that 178,000 people visited the Museum in that year, but back in the year 1929-30 the figure was 367,000 people. Space at the Museum is inadequate. In 1920 there was a total exhibition area of 88,000 square feet whereas today the amount of space for this purpose is only 57,000 square feet, approximately. These figures substantiate the case for extending the Museum both locally in Dublin and in selected areas throughout the country. Much of our valuable museum pieces are lost forever because people are not always aware of their value. We must do everything possible to correct this situation.
At this stage I propose saying a few words in relation to the National Gallery. To paraphrase a bit of poetry —“full many a flower is born to blush unseen and waste its sweetness on the desert air”—so, too, many of our own splendid landscapes are born to blush unseen. They are born to blush in an attic. Therefore, I urge the Minister to ensure that many of these works are displayed in public buildings throughout Ireland, in post offices, courtrooms and town halls. Perhaps they could be displayed, too, in our schools. This would encourage our youth to have a love of art and would also encourage young artists so that at a later date their works might hang in one of our art galleries.
In regard to school management, it would be churlish of us if we did not pay a well-deserved tribute to our school managers. For the past 150 years they gave a good service to  education in Ireland. They have, with one or two notable exceptions, acted honourably and have often been maligned in the wrong because funds were not placed at their disposal, funds which they knew were required to carry out necessary repairs, painting and heating. It should go from this House, now that the system is being changed, that we are grateful to those school managers for the magnificent job they have done.
Perhaps, when some of these managers were made parish priests they were in the autumn of their lives and were not as much inclined to make changes. This could have been avoided if the management of schools was given over to the senior curate in the parish, a priest who, in most cases, was a younger, more active and energetic person than the parish priest. Such a priest would have been in a better position to bring about necessary changes.
The managers have played a great role in Irish education. Perhaps, at the stage when it was decided that the local parish priest should act as the manager of the primary schools in his parish, the people were not in a position to manage their own schools. However, with education the parents are now better equipped to be associated with the parish priest in the management of the primary schools. I was pleasantly surprised that the new management scheme, as outlined by the Minister, received such a welcome from the managers. They, too, realise that greater parent-teacher-pupil participation is needed and, having the best interests of their schools and their locality at heart, have graciously agreed to join with the Minister in implementing his new scheme.
The pupil-teacher ratio has always been the bane of former Ministers for Education and I should like to compliment the present Minister on the improvement brought about since the beginning of the school year, 1st July, 1973. I note that he has promised that from next July no class will have more than 45 pupils. It is a shame that, as outlined in the survey carried out in Dublin, there are 1,021 classes with  more than 45 pupils and 109 with more than 50 pupils. It is physically impossible for a teacher, confined in one room with more than 45 or 50 children, to do justice to himself or to the children. What chance has a slow learner or any pupil of getting that individual care and attention that is needed? I urge the Minister to concentrate on this side of his policy and to bring down as quickly as possible the pupil-teacher ratio to, hopefully, 30 or thereabouts.
I am pleased that the course for training of primary teachers is to be extended to three years, something which has been advocated by the INTO for many years. This has been the pipedream of many of us teachers and at long last, it is being implemented. It is gratifying to know that there are more than 1,000 non-graduates and 104 graduates prepared to enter the teaching profession. In this regard I should like to refer the Minister to a letter which appeared in one of the national papers last week. It was from a teacher who had, of necessity, to go to England but had hoped to return to Ireland to give the benefit of his teaching experience to this country. Unfortunately, however, his teaching years abroad were not included for incremental purposes and he was at a financial loss of £600. I should like to ask the Minister to redress this and to encourage teachers who have been abroad and, consequently, worked a different system, to return to this country and give us the benefit of their teaching experiences.
I should also like to refer to the examinations for trainee teachers. I have one particular aspect in mind, that of singing. I know of one young lady who had done most of the subjects through Irish but failed her singing trials. In the order of merit scheme an applicant who reaches 365 marks is exempt from the singing test. With so much emphasis now on tape recorders and records I do not think that there is this great need for such a high standard in singing. I do not think all our future female teachers should be Maria Callases or Joan Burkes. I agree they need a certain amount of singing ability but I wonder  is the standard expected of female teachers too high. Are females, who are eminently qualified otherwise, debarred from entering the teaching profession simply because they are not endowed with a beautiful voice? I should like the Minister to give his attention to this matter.
I should like to compliment the Minister for solving, at long last, the problem of those teachers who were redundant from 1926 to 1947 through no fault of their own. I was speaking to some of the people involved and they are very pleased with the arrangements brought in by the Minister. They are satisfied with the pension allowance and credits which they feel are adequate and meet their needs.
I should now like to refer to Dún Chaoin. As usual it has been a hobbyhorse backwards and forwards across the floor. I hailed, as all of Ireland did, the Minister's decision to re-open Dún Chaoin. It was an abomination that in the heart of the Gaeltacht a former Minister should order the closure of such a school. It was a stab in the back for all those who have a genuine love for Irish and have no political gains to make out of it. It was an act of lack of confidence in the future of the Irish of the Gaeltacht. I commend the Minister on his decision to re-open the school. All Ireland hailed that magnanimous gesture on his part. It has been stated that there are now only eight pupils at the school but that is not the fault of the present Government. It is the fault of the previous Government who allowed a Gaeltacht area to fall to such a low level that there were only eight young people to avail of the educational facilities there.
I concur with the Minister, on educational grounds when he states that no one-teacher or two-teacher schools will be erected in future. I had misgivings about the amalgamations and closures of some of these schools, especially in rural Ireland, because I felt that the children were being orientated at too early an age to towns; that they were brought in touch with towns to the detriment of their own localities and that they lost out in their rural environment. I believe that  this is one of the costs we will have to bear in the provision of a wider and better type school. However, I commend the Minister in his stated approach that, before he will in future close any school, he will consult the people. People are very hardheaded and it is possible to impress on them that what is being done by the Department is to the advantage of their children and being reasonable people they will agree with the Department. It was the haphazard, across-the-board fashion in which schools were closed, the ruthlessness and the lack of sensitivity, that caused annoyance in the past and aggravated the position.
There is £5 million available this year for the building of new schools. Here, I should like to put in a plug for my own constituency of South Tipperary. The Minister, being a Tipperary man, has been very generous to us, but I would ask him to loosen the purse strings a little more, especially where Kilross school is concerned and where Tipperary town national school is concerned. There we have a school which was built in 1832. It has been reconstructed a couple of times but we certainly have a case now for complete renewal. I hope the Minister will give this school his immediate attention.
I thank him for Tankerstown new central school and I would urge him to give some attention to Golden national school and provide there the necessary classroom extension and the library which is being sought. I thank him for his kind approach to the proposed closure of Killenaule national school. He informs us no further action will be taken without prior consultation with the parents and without delving more fully into the position. The people there are grateful for the reprieve he has given their school.
In Carrick-on-Suir the Christian Brothers are clamouring for a new secondary school and I would urge the Minister, if at all possible, to grant them their wishes. They, like many other religious orders, have given good and loyal service down through the years at a time when education was  not as popular or as good a vote-catcher as it is now. We cannot discard that service lightly. In Carrick-on-Suir the Brothers have served for 170 years and that service cannot now be lightly cast aside. Neither can the service of the other religious orders up and down the country be lightly discarded at the whim of a Minister. I urge him to take all these things into consideration and blend the old with the new in any future scheme of rationalisation.
In Killenaule people have been clamouring for a senior cycle vocational school. Tipperary is clamouring for a new vocational school and many extensions are required in other areas throughout the county. I urge the Minister to give top priority to these schools. I agree wholeheartedly with him when he says priority must be given to new housing areas and special schools for the handicapped but, when these priorities have been taken care of, I hope he will turn his attention to these others.
Many of my colleagues have dealt with the free book scheme. It is gratifying to note an increase of £30,000 in the amount available this year. Possibly a good part of that will be eroded in the higher cost of books. At a recent meeting of the vocational committee the suggestion was made— I did not agree with it—that there are influences in the book business which do not redound to the welfare of the schools or the pupils. I would ask the Minister to take a hard look at the free book scheme and to try to counteract any defects that may exist. It was suggested that there was no need for continually changing textbooks. It was suggested that the curriculum should be geared to a recurring cycle so that the same textbooks would be used every second or third year. I suggest that the teachers should be reminded to instruct their charges that this free book scheme operates at the expense of the taxpayer and to stress the importance of taking the greatest care of these books, returning them at the end of the year to the school so that they can be used again either in the classroom or in the library. A little  tightening up might result in economies and some saving in this particular sphere.
In the primary section £44 million is allotted. Grants have been increased by approximately 17 per cent. I commend the Minister for this. This will give the school managers and the school authorities a little more scope in keeping their schools painted, cleaned and adequately heated. I would suggest that in the older types of schools a little more might be spent on heating, cleaning and painting to compensate the children to some extent who are attending these schools for the poor structures and drab appearance. Managers have been maligned—wrongly, I think—for their lack of care in this regard. It must be remembered that these finances were very limited and, unless they delved, as they always did, into local funds the position would have been infinitely worse. May I say local funds were not always too readily available and the schools suffered accordingly?
I agree with the Minister in the setting up of educational priority areas. There is great need for concentration. These priority areas have in them broken homes, disturbed families, a high incidence of unemployment and drab surroundings. If we are to cherish all our children equally then we must give these children special concessions, not alone in the pupil-teacher ratio but also in making available to them better facilities to help offset the defects in their social environment. I suggest the Minister should work in close co-operation with the Minister for Justice to see how he can reduce the crime rate, juvenile deliquency and potential gang warfare in these areas.
Some people are disturbed about the occasion when a Minister was not allowed freedom of speech at a university. I would not attach too much importance to that. In universities there is always a vociferous minority who take it on themselves to be spokesmen for practically every facet of life. I am glad that at last something is being done to amalgamate the systems in Trinity College and  UCD; the merging of the old, venerable Trinity with the new UCD is desirable. I would urge students who have an affinity with students in Tokyo, New York, Paris and London, to try to have the same affinity and sense of brotherhood at local level. They can give the lead in this case by agreeing to amalgamation, by agreeing to be governed by the same authority. I would ask them to allow their liberalism to extend to the merging of the universities. It has been a scandal that in a city like this there has been so much dissipation of energy and time. A great saving can be made for the betterment of all if this long-sought merger takes place. I urge the Minister to tackle this delicate question in as expert a manner as possible. He will need all his charm if he is to bring about this merger.
I welcome the establishment of An Foras Oiliúna. An in-depth study of teacher training at first and second-levels has been long overdue. The stated purpose is to enhance and promote the educational and professional interests of teachers. I should like to include an assessment of the applicants so that children will be taught by the best possible teachers. I am rather disappointed there has not been any mention of the curriculum in primary schools and I would urge the Minister to set up a similar foras to make a study of this matter and to see how the curriculum would fit into the overall context of second- and third-level education. It would be desirable to find out if we have at primary level the proper basis for second- and third-level education and to make sure that sufficient time is given to subjects. An inquiry should also be made into teaching aids. At the moment there is something haphazard about the distribution of these aids and there should be a more scientific approach to this matter.
I agree with the Minister's proposal that in future reformatory and industrial schools be known as special schools and residential homes. Like Father Flanagan of Boys' Town and the Minister, I agree there are no bad boys. If a boy misbehaves and if he is  taken in hand in time he can be trained to be a good citizen. Unfortunately, up to now the facilities available were totally inadequate. Frequently, a first offender was sent to a reformatory school and he came out a confirmed criminal. I applaud all the work that has been done in the past few years in this area. There is a special school for boys at Finglas, a remand and assessment home is about to be built and in addition, the old industrial school at Clonmel is being modernised. Group homes are being built at Moate and adequate grants are being made available so that young offenders can be retrained and encouraged to leave their potentially criminal life.
The matter of pupil guidance has been sadly neglected during the years. Nowadays it is essential that the pupil be guided on the right road. It is heartening to know that at the moment there are 200 guidance teachers and that 80 are being released for in-service one-year courses. One Deputy wondered if guidance teachers could be appointed in Cork. It is already provided that for every 250 pupils a post outside the normal quota of teachers will be created and a guidance teacher appointed. In my own town there are schools with less than 250 pupils and there are comparable vocational schools at Cahir, Cappawhite and Cashel. Perhaps guidance teachers could be appointed to these schools on a part-time basis. For instance, it might be possible for them to spend a few hours or a day in a particular school for counselling services for the students.
I knew of a case where a young girl took Spanish up to fifth year and then, for some unbelievable reason, she decided to drop it. Last year when she wished to enter university she was debarred from doing so because she did not have a second continental language and, as a consequence, her future was upset. A guidance teacher would have advised her that a second continental language was needed for admission to university. I know there are cases throughout the country where students at the beginning of their studies choose the wrong range of subjects which debars them later  on from attending colleges of technology or universities. All these mistakes can be avoided if guidance teachers are appointed to the schools.
I agree with the Minister in his attitude towards examinations. I am glad to know that at present there is a working party sitting and that a draft has been issued to the schools. The Minister is awaiting the final findings. I would urge him to meet all interested parties so that a new system can be found and we can dispense as far as possible with the whole concept of examination. It is true that, with the new grading, we have got rid of that awful marking system under which one mark could make the difference between pass and honours. This was impossible for any examiner. Grading is a step in the right direction and I would urge parents who are anxious that we should return to the old system to have second thoughts because many a young student found himself on the edge of a nervous breakdown in his effort to get those all important marks. Irreparable damage has been done to our youth in the mad rush for marks at examinations.
I note with pleasure that nine new community schools have been opened since September and that there are 12 in operation. I concur completely with the whole concept of the community school, but one must tread delicately because one is possibly trespassing on the preserves of certain school authorities. The whole secret for future community schools is consultation—consultation with managers, with parents, with teachers, so that they will see the advantages that must accrue from broad curriculum, a wider range of subjects and better facilities. Teachers, parents and managers will accept this new concept if it is properly put across to them.
Another field in which the Minister can use his expertise is that of adult education. This has been almost totally neglected in the past. There are people who for economic or family reasons were debarred from pursuing a worthwhile formal education. Now, as adults, they are in a position and  they wish to take up where they left off. We must cater for those. I would suggest that a special committee should be set up to examine the whole concept of adult education and how best the needs of all the people can be met.
I welcome the many projects which the Department have at present in hand, especially the one being carried out by the Trinity College authorities at the instigation of the Intermediate Certificate Review Committee. They are trying to find an alternative form of evaluation to replace examinations. The findings will be very interesting. I hope they will come up with a practical solution to this very vexed question. There is also the project at present in hand in Kilkenny, sponsored by St. Patrick's Training College, where there is a home-based intervention programme for disadvantaged children. Here we are getting at the kernel of the whole situation—the home environment. There must be closer liaison between home and school. Parents must be brought in for consultation, a deeper understanding must be worked out between parents, teachers and management, because they all have complementary parts to play in education and it is from their working in unison that the child will benefit. If parents, teachers and school managers are working in different directions the child will suffer.
I welcome the attention that is being given to apprenticeship training. For years this was neglected. The apprentice was seen as of no consequence. I welcome the safeguarding of the apprentice's interests, that he is not just being produced on a conveyor belt but that his whole person is being taken into consideration. He is being qualified in his particular skill but he is also being trained to lead a fuller life, leisurewise and academically.
I wish the Minister and his Parliamentary Secretary every success in their undoubtedly laborious and very important Ministry. I would ask the Minister to give us a definitive statement as to what he has in mind in regard to his overall picture of education so that we can see the eventual end product. I would ask him to  follow through for us from the input stage the different ways a pupil may go. In this changing world the whole system of education is evolving before our eyes. I would ask him not to discard too lightly what we have. It has been fashioned out of our history, out of our background. It has served us quite adequately and, if we are to adapt, let us take from other systems that which will be complementary to our own system. With the merging of the old and the new we can be assured that the end product will have the desired effect on our youth. I commend the Minister for what he has already done and I look forward to reading his Estimate year after year and seeing how far he has gone in the implementation of his many worthwhile aims and ideas.
Mr. Blaney Mr. Blaney
Mr. Blaney: I should like to compliment the Minister on his activities during the short time the Government have been in office. There are some things which I would like to see done which have not been done, but the Minister has been pretty active in doing certain things which were waiting to be done for a considerable time.
Having said that, I suggest it would appear as if the Minister is falling into the same mould as his predecessor. In so far as the outside world is concerned there is not sufficient information coming from the Minister or from his Department to give a clear idea of where education is going, right from primary level right through to university level.
This is not a new view nor is it an isolated view. This view has been expressed for years in various ways in regard to education. Communication about education is as unheard of today as it was for years past. One has only to look at the structure of education to appreciate this point of view. We have vocational education and secondary education; we have comprehensive schools and now community schools. Nobody outside the Department—and perhaps even within the Department—really knows the true role of all these various elements. If we have been experimenting, hoping for the success of the various types of schools, hoping that something  better than what we had before will emerge, it is scandalous. I rather discard the idea of experimentation. We must come to the conclusion that the Department and the Minister know what they are doing. If they do, why can they not communicate with the various people interested in education and let them know of their plans? It would be wise to do that. There could be a White Paper on education, as I have suggested previously. Even if a White Paper was not perfect it might be the best way of getting those interested in education to help the Department and to help perfect the proposed pattern for the future education of our children.
We are often told of proposals after they have been completed. The Minister is aware of the situation in regard to community schools. I do not know how much planning was done about community schools. The costs of constructing the buildings for such schools may have been more because of the haste. The haste was staggering. There is a school under construction at Cloughaneely at the moment. There was trouble about the foundations for this school. The Department had some land on which they could have put this structure. The haste with which this matter was dealt with appals me.
The commission for the design of the proposed 25 community schools—and perhaps even more—was given to one architect. It was suggested that this was arranged through a design consultancy in London. If that is true, it is interesting. How did it happen that this commission was arranged through one agency and in such haste? Has that haste resulted in additional costs of a substantial nature at the Cloughaneely school? Is there a possibility that additional costs have been incurred or will be incurred in so far as the actual planning and phasing of the structure at Carndonagh are concerned? The schools I have mentioned are in my own county but there are others. We may find that there has been haste in trying to get other schools started and that the total cost will be very high.
 The overall cost of these community schools is important, but it is still more important to know what these community schools propose to do. What are they going to do which was not already done? What will they do for the students of the future that could not have been adequately done through the structures already in existence if the money poured into the community schools had been available to the existing schools, both secondary and vocational? Nobody has shown that the schools which exist, if they had sufficient money, could not have been moulded to fit into the pattern of things and to do as good a job as the community schools are supposed to do.
Have the Department thought carefully about these community schools? Do they know whether they will give us a limited number of them, or are we going to have community schools for all secondary level education? We should be told all about them. Should we all be trying to plan for the emergence of the c o m m u n i t y school second-level educational system? We are not being told enough. We are being told that there is great haste in building these schools and in having boards elected. These boards seem to be left in the wilderness without knowing what control they have or what their legal status is. Staff are being taken from vocational schools and secondary schools and are being employed by the new boards. They do not know what their legal status is under these boards. Is that an oversight? Is there lack of knowledge in the Department about what it is intended to do in the future? Why do the Department not give more information to those concerned with second-level education or with education in general? These people must be perplexed by the apparent lack of commitment by the Department in regard to future policy.
I appeal to the Minister to get down to the job with his Department and to issue a White Paper, even if such White Paper is incomplete. A White Paper could give the broad outline and the detail could be filled in after consultation with the teachers. This  would be to the benefit of the educational system as a whole. People outside the Department should not be left confused about education. They should know what their respective roles will be. This is a most reasonable request. It is not an isolated request or a unique point of view. It is a general view which has been expressed in many ways in many quarters. There has been a good deal of concern among all those engaged in education.
I appreciate the decision taken in regard to the Donegal problem when the Minister took over, which was that the Cloughaneely, Gweedore and Rosses parishes or catchment areas were in a quandary as to what the future held for them in regard to these community schools. The first offer was that there would be a community school only in Gweedore and that it would take part of the catchment area students from the Rosses and Cloughaneely. To this the Donegal Vocational Committee objected on the very proper grounds that it would wreck the second level educational opportunities in the Cloughaneely and Rosses areas. After quite a long discussion on two separate occasions with a high officer of the Department of Education it was eventually agreed that there should be a community school in Cloughaneely and also in Gweedore. The official was not prepared, or perhaps not authorised, to go further. It was left so that the vocational education committee would have to look after the rest. We reluctantly agreed to this as part of the whole deal provided there was simultaneous sanction for the operation in Dungloe and that the structure and facilities would be of no lower standard than was proposed for the community schools at Cloughaneely and Gweedore.
Since then the Minister—wisely, I think—decided there should be three community schools for the three catchment areas. A peculiar twist is that the Cloughaneely school, which was not in the picture at all a year or 18 months ago, has been started; the Gweedore one has not started and the Gweedore people are  very concerned about this. People in Dungloe and in Rosses are back to the same state of mind that they were in two years ago, that probably there will be nothing for them. I do not share their view; I believe the three areas will be treated equally and that is necessary because any question of a different level or standard in one centre or the other would make second- or third-class those with the lower standard of structure or facilities.
The type of school in all three cases should be the same and the Minister has indicated they will be the same, but I would urge more action on the part of the Department in regard to the Gweedore community school and the Dungloe school than is evident now. I do not know what the hold-up is, but there is a delay. Cloughaneely is going ahead well but the other two are non-existent and nothing seems to be happening.
On the vocational side, in which I am particularly interested, I have this very definite criticism to make of the Department and of the Minister as head of it: that while we have very substantial capital investment in our county and every other county we do not seem to have, within the Department, the wish or the knowledge or the will to back up our capital investment by using what it has produced to the full. It is most extraordinary that, above all things, we find ourselves short of teaching staff I cannot accept or credit that the Department fully appreciate the stupidity of their attitude in providing the structures, facilities and equipment and providing an overall quota of teachers and then starving the result of all that. More teachers could make such a difference in giving us scope for greater expansion to meet the ever-growing need for vocational education in my county and, I am sure, in others. A few extra teachers would give us a far higher return on our capital investment than we are getting at present.
There must be somebody in the Department, not at the highest level I suspect, but at the initiating level from which things are later channelled through higher levels on to the Minister, with a narrow, niggardly little  mind who feels that by cutting off a teacher here and there and saving the salaries of two, three or four teachers over a county, he is really doing a great job for the country. Somebody is playing that game and it surprises me that those higher up, although their hands must be very full, do not realise what a wasteful operation it is when we should be utilising to the very fullest extent where the demand exists all the institutions in which we have already invested our capital and that we should at least be given the teachers.
There is not much point in having local committees if they do not know what they need. I respectfully suggest that the Department are in no position to know better. Perhaps that is one of the advantages of a local committee, that they do know. Unfortunately, the Department for some reason do not seem to accept that local committees—possibly because of their composition; there may be a bias for that reason—really know what their own areas require. I say they do and they should be heeded much more than they are, because too little attention is paid to their views from the point of view of getting the most out of the investment that has been and is being made by the State and supported by the taxpayers. The Department should listen more to the local committees; do not accept everything they say but do not reject everything they say because they say it. I suggest they know a great deal more than those in the Department who are charged with the responsibility of the whole country and not just part of it.
We have been hearing much about regionalisation and again it is all double talk. A document which I shall not call stupid—it is probably rather clever—was circulated. It is a kite being flown by the Department or the Minister suggesting regionalisation of the vocational system. The amazing kernel of it is that primary education and those concerned in it are excluded specifically—that is one of the first clauses in it. Secondary education is excluded in another clause, and further  on we find that the new board that will form the regional board to take over from the vocational committees will be confined solely to the operation of vocational schools, but those who have been excluded from its jurisdiction are being given representation on that board.
Would somebody tell me why? Why exclude the primary management and its whole concern from such a regional board? Why exclude the secondary management, and so forth, from this regional board and then insist that the new board must be constituted so as to give very adequate representation to those two elements? Who is trying to cod whom and what is it about? Have the Department made any effort whatever? Again, it may be that they have full and conclusive evidence which would be convincing to all and sundry, to the public and those immediately concerned with education, that regionalisation would be a good and desirable thing and that it should be done.
If such arguments and such evidence are available to the Department, why do they not do a public relations opertion and produce that evidence to show that a change is necessary in this direction? If they prove that the change is necessary, I can assure the Minister and the Department that they will get all possible assistance from all the committees all over the country in trying to institute a new system which will be an improvement on the educational facilities for the students of the future. Do not try on what is being tried on at the moment, coming out on the blind with this apparently stupid, but I think rather clever document, flying a kite that does not make a great deal of sense in the hope that the confusion it creates amongst the committees will so break up any coherent opinion between committees that the Department will get their way and set up their regional boards.
That is not the way to go about it. I am not at all convinced that it is a good thing anyhow but prove it and, in so far as I can in my committee, I will help to set up these boards. Try on what is being tried on at the moment and I and all the members of  my committee—and we have discussed this document—will impede the Department in every way in the setting up of such an arrangement. Stop treating us as if we were some sort of delinquents or some sort of children who should be told what is good for us. Tell us what it is all about and ask for our co-operation instead of trying to lead us on the blind—telling us one thing and doing the other. There has been too much of that in the Department for far too long. All of it must reflect to the detriment of the educational opportunities of the present day students and those of the immediate future.
I do not know who is playing what sort of games or what they are for. We should keep in mind the whole purpose of the Department, of all our committees and of all of our management boards at whatever level. There is only one consideration of any importance and, that is, the betterment of the educational facilities available to our young people today and tomorrow. If we kept that in mind we could do a lot better than we are doing at the moment even within the resources being made available at present for education as a whole.
I say to the Department: “Come off this caper of trying to get your way without telling us where you are going. Do not try on the game of telling us you are going left when in fact you are going right. This does not get you anywhere.” It certainly does not help to get the acceptance of any proposal from the Department no matter how notorious it may be. It is looked on with suspicion because we have learned that this which is proposed today is very often not what is done tomorrow. We do not get an explanation as to why the first proposal is changed to the second. I do not think this is good enough, and it is not in the best interests of the furtherance of education opportunities.
Still on the question of vocational schools, we have had the growing blight on our landscape of the pre-fabs. It can be said that this is the Department's answer to the very fast growing demands for additional space and so forth, and they keep dishing it  out. It is long past the time when that was the real cause. What is happening —I have this disposition at any rate— is that the pre-fabs are being used not merely to fill the need for additional pupil space. They are being put where they are requested and demanded in this state: pre-fab, fluid, can be removed, not fully committed. They are indicative not just of the fast growing need for additional space but of the lack of confidence in the Department as to what the future of these vocational schools will be. Therefore they decide that they will not make the authorised additions too permanent. This underlies a great deal of the speed with which we can occasionally get authorisation for pre-fabs and the total lack of progress in getting permanent structures extended or provided.
In my county we have ample evidence of this. The Buncrana situation is a crying shame for a town of its size. We have been totally black-guarded—and I say that deliberately —by the Department for years past in the non-provision of proper vocational school facilities. This is one of two which were advertised for tender seven or eight years ago. Our vocational committee in very recent years, under the threat of legal proceedings, had to pay the fees for the completion of documents and specifications—a considerable amount of money—and we still have not been able to get the Department to rectify this sorry and sad situation.
More power to them, right beside the vocational school we have an order of nuns who broke through the barrier and went ahead and built quite substantially. Any thought on erecting that building emerged years after it had been agreed that the vocational committee would build a substantial and proper vocational school in Buncrana. Why the differentiation? Why the apparent discrimination against the vocational element in this town? There is something very wrong and the Department must know why it is wrong, where it went wrong, and what is keeping it as wrong as it still is.
At the other end of the county we  have Ballyshannon. We heard many pleas about community schools and a community of schools and the seeking and getting of agreement to merge the secondary and vocational interests in various places. We know the lengths to which the Department are prepared to go to bring about these mergers. Yet, in Ballyshannon for quite a considerable time there has been a situation which was ripe for a community of schools. Instead of getting somewhere with it with the aid of the Department we seem to be impeded in every direction. We are not making headway in Ballyshannon. The present conditions under which our pupils are being taught are nothing short of being scandalous.
I do not want by way of suggestion here to add any fuel to the danger of fire in Ballyshannon, but it is currently well understood that, unless we can do something and do it very rapidly in Ballyshannon, we will have a complete strike in that catchment area. This would be a tragedy for the children concerned. The parents and pupils of yesterday endured pushing around and lack of facilities for too long. I would be sorry if they went to extremes but I could understand them doing that if they were not treated better.
Mr. White Mr. White
Mr. White: Does the Deputy agree to a community school in Ballyshannon?
Mr. Blaney Mr. Blaney
Mr. Blaney: I agree with what the people of Ballyshannon desire.
Mr. White Mr. White
Mr. White: What is the Deputy's opinion?
Mr. Blaney Mr. Blaney
Mr. Blaney: I want what the people in Ballyshannon want. In the very near future I will be taking a closer look at Ballyshannon than I have done in the past. I would be very happy to assist Deputy White in bringing about what is best for Ballyshannon. Since he has not succeeded on his own up to now.
Mr. White Mr. White
Mr. White: Six months?
Mr. Blaney Mr. Blaney
Mr. Blaney: This subject was discussed at the last vocational education committee meeting. As a result of that  discussion our November meeting will be held in Ballyshannon so that the members of the committee will be acquainted as first hand with the difficulties which exist there. My sole purpose in raising this subject here is to try to prepare the way and to get something done speedily in Ballyshannon. These are typical of the problems which existed and were encountered in my county over the years, not just for the last six or nine months but six or nine years, or even longer.
We are very proud of the regional technical college in Donegal. That was one of the best things ever done for that county by any Government. The college has been in operation for a relatively short time. The lack of commitment by the Department, the Minister and the policy makers is giving cause for concern that the regional technical college is not fulfilling its role in anything like the measure which had been hoped for when it was first built. A danger is emerging that regional colleges will become not truly third level educational institutes but a mongrel, not quite of second or third level education, and carrying no particular weight by way of qualifications at the end of their courses. I implore the Minister to consider this matter seriously and urgently. He should not lose time or energy trying to find a way in which true third level education will be available to the widest possible numbers which the regional colleges can provide. It is essential that the courses provided should lead ultimately to a recognised and worthwhile diploma or certificate, if they are to succeed and progress in provincial areas.
Help is needed at the very highest level in the shortest time if the ambition held by the regional colleges is to be realised to any great degree. We must attract students with the requisite educational standards. I am making this point on behalf of Donegal alone. We are not being treated fairly in regard to the gathering of students to Letterkenny from the dispersed points of a scattered county. Our most recent proposal to the Minister was well thought out, and worked out, based on the number of students we could attract into our college to enlarge our classes  and widen our courses and curriculum. These could have been augmented very substantially at no extra cost to the Department or the Exchequer, by our proposal, commencing from four different points of the county with transport that would bring these students to our college every morning and take them home every evening. This unfortunately has been rejected on the grounds that (1) it would have created a precedent and (2) it would cost additional money.
I want to make my point quite clear. What we wished to do was to vote some of the very small amount of scholarship money given to Donegal by the Department for transport. That in itself would be equivalent to a scholarship to those who cannot at this stage afford to live in Letterkenny and attend the regional college. I ask the Parliamentary Secretary who is concerned with school transport to consider this. Try it as an experiment for a year and see how it works, is it unique to this country or if there is a demand elsewhere? It is merely a diversion of the Department's money and not an additional amount being sought by the Letterkenny college. If this proposal were agreed the college would gain very substantially from it.
Another aspect of our regional colleges which requires airing is agricultural education. It does not wholly begin or end in the regional colleges. It is a very broad and tricky problem as the Minister is no doubt aware since it is one for which the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries is also responsible. Perhaps the Minister for Education will give us some information as to what progress has been made between the two Departments in their most recent efforts to try to resolve how and in what way agricultural education, science and other agricultural subjects can be best dissiminated, by whom and under whose control.
Progress reported; Committee to sit again.
Dáil Éireann 268 Committee on Finance. Vote 27: Office of the Minister for Education (resumed).