Dáil Éireann - Volume 423 - 07 October, 1992

Written Answers. - Education White Paper.

[227] 225. Mr. Carey asked the Minister for Education if his attention has been drawn to the disquiet regarding the time frame for the publication of the White Paper on education since the participants lost two months due to schools' closure; and whether he intends giving a derogation on the submission dates.

Minister for Education (Mr. S. Brennan): I am very pleased with the level and extent of the debate so far on the Green Paper among all concerned interests and the general public. Everyone, I believe is agreed on the importance of the issues facing us. Equally I believe there is a desire on all sides to proceed as quickly as possible to the formulation of clear policy directions to facilitate the development and implementation of a new framework for our education system, in partnership with all concerned.

I am seeking to actively facilitate the debate in every way open to me. The “Introduction to the Green Paper”, containing all the main aims, was published on 21st April, 1992 and was made available extensively to all concerned, including individual teachers and schools. The full text was published in June and made available immediately to all the major interest groups and published extensively in the national media.

Immediately following the publication senior officials from my Department invited all the main concerned interests individually to briefing/clarification meetings. I have taken every possible opportunity to talk with various groups and I have now arranged four major seminars over the next six weeks in Cork, Limerick, Sligo and Athlone to further promote debate and possibly a further one in Dublin in mid-December. I would also propose, with the agreement of the Whips, to have a full debate on the Green Paper in both Houses later in the month.

I am aware of concerns about an overly tight time frame. I fully recognise the importance of debate and consultation. Equally I believe all share a wish to see [228] the White Paper taking shape. I believe we are allowed good time for, and facilitating in every way possible, substantive debate as a basis for such action. Therefore I wish to confirm that I will ensure that adequate time is made available to all parties to submit their views and that they are fully consulted in advance of the writing of the White Paper.