Dáil Éireann - Volume 445 - 11 October, 1994

Written Answers. - LINGUA Programme.

483. Mr. Gilmore asked the Minister for Education if she has received a request to amend Section 2.1 C of the LINGUA action Ireland scheme to reduce the duration of the exchange in view of the difficulties which the 14 days minimum is posing for teachers and schools in disadvantaged areas; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [364/94]

Minister for Education (Ms Bhreathnach): The LINGUA programme was adopted by a decision of the Council of Ministers of the European Community in July, 1989. The main aim of the scheme is to promote a qualitative and quantitative improvement in the learning of LINGUA languages throughout the European Union.

Under the relevant action to which the Deputy refers, the Council decision specifies a minimum of 14 days duration for the exchange, to include travel time. It is considered that this is the minimum time necessary for a meaningful cultural and education experience in the partner country. A shorter period would lead to a superficial contact with the local culture and language and prevent any meaningful process-orientated work on the type of joint educational project envisaged under LINGUA. It is not open to member states to unilaterally alter the duration of the exchanges.

On the question of disadvantaged areas, financial support to exchanges under the relevant LINGUA action is normally no more than 50 per cent of the overall cost. However, in cases where economic, social or regional disadvantages is substantiated by the principal of the school, up to 75 per cent may be made available.