Galway Advertiser 2009/GA_2009_08_13/GA_1308_E1_004.pdf
August 13 2009
Proposed education cuts will lead to survival of fittest, warns Healy Eames
BY MARY O'CONNOR Proposed Government cuts in education will have an adverse impact on future examination results. That's the view of Fine Gael Seanad education spokesperson, Fidelma Healy Eames. She is calling on the Minister for Education Batt O'Keeffe to either reverse the teacher cuts or reform the exam system to safeguard quality. "The fact that the downward trend in students taking honours maths, down to 16 per cent this year, and the physical sciences continues unabated is a cause for real concern. Creating specialist jobs in the high-end knowledge and innovation sectors is critical to our competitive edge. If there is to be any chance of dragging Ireland back from the precipice of total economic decline we must ensure our children are well educated in technology and the sciences, which, regrettably, today's results do not reflect." The Oranmore politician warns there is worse to come. "Critically, if the Government fires ahead with its ruthless education cuts, in the form of at least 1,000 fewer teachers at second level, it is impossible to see how our education results will improve next year. For example, fewer schools will be in a position to offer
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honours maths. Principals have reported how they face logistical problems with course offerings as they attempt to cope with fewer teachers. Students will have fewer subject choices available to them at the appropriate level (honours, pass or foundation) to suit their ability. This is not education; this is the survival of the fittest." She says the impact of such hard hitting cuts will be even more profound at Junior Certificate level. Increased pupil teacher ratios in the early years of second-level will contribute to the alienation of pupils from an already overloaded curriculum. Reduced pupil teacher time and a greater number of disaffected students will lead to more wanting to leave school early. "Make no mistake, the effects of the proposed cuts at second-level will be catastrophic on the quality of education on offer. This will be borne out in future exam results. If Ireland's economic recovery, and our children's futures, is to be secured, the Government and Minister O'Keeffe must hold off on cuts to teacher numbers and implement intensive sectoral reform to address the problems at hand. If the Minister considers honours maths and science to be important to the nation's future he must ring fence teacher allocation in these areas."
Average debt of clients at Galway MABS offices over 26,000
BY MARTINA NEE The average debt owed by clients seeking help from the Money and Budgetary Services (MABS) offices in Galway was 26,400 as at end of June last which was above the national average of 15,100, that is according to figures obtained from the Department of Social and Family Affairs. It was announced earlier this week that 19 MABS offices around the country are to get additional staff to help deal with the surge in the numbers contacting the debt counselling organisation's hotline. The helpline received 12,200 calls in the first six months of 2009 compared with almost 11,000 in the full year of 2008. The extra demand for financial advice is being felt at MABS offices in north Galway and south Galway (including Galway city) which are to be allocated an additional half time temporary money advisor. A Department spokesperson confirmed that from January to the end of June 2009, a total of 303 new clients were seen by south Galway MABS and 70 people sought information about budgeting and money management from local services. The total active caseload as at end of June was 592, and the average debt owed by new clients when they first presented at MABS was 24,800. The majority of clients, 60 per cent, were on social welfare payments with 28 per cent of these in receipt of Jobseekers payments (UA/UB) and 12 per cent in receipt of OPFP. In addition, 22 per cent of clients were in receipt of wages and 58 per cent of clients had no second income coming into the household. The number of new clients seen by the north Galway MABS was 269 from January to the end of June 2009 and 15 people sought information about budgetary and money management from local services. The total active caseload as at end of June was 447 and the average debt owed, by new clients when they first presented at MABS, was 28,000. The majority of clients, 60 per cent, were on social welfare payments with 32 per cent in receipt of Jobseekers payments (UA/UB) and eight per cent in receipt of OPFP. In addition, 27 per cent of clients were in receipt of wages and 49 per cent of clients had no second income coming in to the household. Minister for Social and Family Affairs, Mary Hanafin TD, said that she had received Department of Finance approval for additional posts which will see five of the busiest urban offices each getting a full time temporary post, while 14 other offices will get additional half time temporary posts. In the first six months of 2009 almost 9,800 new clients were seen by MABS staff across the country, and the average debt owed when they first presented was 15,100.
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