Future primary school teachers have started an intense letter writing campaign, calling on local TD’s and the Government to reform the compulsory Gaeltacht scheme which personally costs them over €1,500.
In order to become a primary school teacher, students are required to spend two weeks in the Gaeltacht, in order to improve their Irish language skills during the Easter of first and third year. Before 2012, the programme was subsidised and cost each student €250 but since the subsidy was scrapped, a single two-week stint in the Gaeltacht costs €750. This does not include the cost of transport, spending money, loss of earnings and the trip even costs some students their part-time jobs.
One third year student in St. Patrick’s college said that she and her peers believe this added financial pressure is not acceptable, especially as college fees are getting more expensive.
“This has put a lot of financial strain on students, who very often are forced to work during the college year and summer to fund this, it is a lot of pressure for us and our parents with the fact that this scheme is compulsory in order to graduate,” she said.
She went on to highlight the fact that the majority of students think it’s ridiculous that the Government won’t reintroduce the subsidy but yet spends so much on prisons.
“It would cost the state €1.9 million and most students quote this as still being less than what the government annually spends on prison gym equipment. It is difficult to understand why the State isn’t willing to pay such a relatively small figure in order to help the teachers of future generations, improve their Irish.”