CEISTEANNA—QUESTIONS. - TEACHERS' PENSIONS.

To ask the Minister for Education if he is aware of the special hardships which the present system of calculating pensions will inflict on teachers, who are due to retire during the current Financial year; and if, in view of all these circumstances, he will consider the advisability of allowing all such teachers, who are efficient, to continue in the service at least until 31st March, 1923.

This question involves the general question of the National Education Estimates for the payment of teachers, and also the question of the charge to Teachers' Pension Fund. The National Education Estimates are based on the understanding that teachers with fairly large salaries will normally retire at the age of 65 or earlier, and that their places in the general teaching profession will be filled by young teachers coming in at the lower scales of salaries. The Teachers' Superannuation Fund is also based on the normal retirement of teachers in accordance with the late Rules. In view of the changes in the administration of Irish Education, a number of teachers who had reached the age for compulsory retirement were continued beyond the normal time—some of them six months longer than they would have been retained by the late administration. This has already put a considerable strain on the estimate for teachers' salaries for the current financial year, but the suggested continuance of such teachers for another six months would put an abnormal financial strain not only on the National Education Estimates for salaries, but on the Teachers' Superannuation Fund.

The retention of such teachers beyond the normal time raises, besides, a serious question, inasmuch as their continuance in the service would, result in a very serious grievance:

(a) To the number of younger teachers awaiting promotion;

(b) To the number of young recently trained teachers who, in these circumstances, would be unable to obtain employment;

(c) To the number of teachers trained in previous years, who, owing to their inability to obtain employment, were obliged to seek service in schools in Great Britain, with the consequential loss to the country of the cost of their training.

The changes in the salaries basis and the consequential changes in the rates of pensions have naturally caused certain apparent anomalies, but the improvements recently made in the salaries of the teaching profession have in the bulk of the cases resulted in giving substantial pensions to the teachers who now retire normally under the rules, aud the suggestion that such teachers should be further retained does not appear to be defensible either on educational or other grounds.