Dáil Éireann - Volume 489 - 21 April, 1998
Written Answers. - Early School Leavers.
Mr. O'Shea Mr. O'Shea
770. Mr. O'Shea asked the Minister for Education and Science the policies, if any, being pursued by his Department to tackle the problem of early school leaving; the progress, if any, which has and is being made in implementing the recommendations of the National Economic and Social Forum in its report, “Early School Leaving and Long-Term Unemployment”; when the school leaving age will raised to 16; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9332/98]
Minister for Education and Science (Mr. Martin) Micheál Martin
Minister for Education and Science (Mr. Martin): My Department has a range of strategies in place to help prevent and address early school leaving. These include the development of early start centres; the allocation of additional resources to schools in disadvantaged areas; the home-school community liaison scheme; curricular reforms to allow students to make choices relevant to their abilities and aptitudes; support for junior and senior centres for travellers; the free book scheme, and alleviation of examination fees for necessitous pupils; second chance education programmes such as Youthreach and the vocational training opportunity scheme; and investment in improving the quality and responsiveness of the system through in-career development and implementation of national certification for vocational education and training. As part of  the Mid-Term Review of Structural Funds 1994-99, new initiatives have been agreed for implementation in 1998 and 1999 under which: £2.96 million is being provided over 1998 and 1999 for a new initiative focused on structured pilot projects in urban and rural disadvantaged areas which test models for the development of an integrated area based co-ordination of services to cater for young people aged eight-15 years at risk of early school leaving; £19.733 million is being provided for a minimum of 1,000 additional places for early school leavers in the Youthreach and traveller training programmes. In addition, £1.97 million is being provided for bridging and progression options for early school leavers through the FÁS training system, and 727 places within the FÁS system will be redeployed to progression options for these programmes in 1998. This investment will increase the number of early school leavers undergoing training in FÁS and the vocational education committees under Youthreach and the traveller training centres from 4,525 to 6,250 in 1998, with provision also for some 440 trainees on the FÁS bridging measures. The establishment of the extra places is under way; and £0.987 million is being provided for the strengthening of counselling, guidance and psychological services for participation on these programmes. The task force established to make recommendations on a framework for the measure has just completed its report, and applications for funding have been invited.
I propose to publish a School Attendance (Amendment) Bill before the end of the year. Among the issues being considered in this context is raising the minimum school leaving age to sixteen years.
Dáil Éireann 489 Written Answers. Early School Leavers.