asked the Minister for Education if he is satisfied that standards and opportunities available to students entering training colleges for primary teachers are realistic, up-to-date and in keeping with expectations of the students and authorities of such colleges.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Primary Teacher Training Colleges.
I am satisfied that the standards and opportunities available to students in the training colleges are realistic and satisfactory in the context of the present two-year course. The future provision in the matter of training of primary teachers is at present being considered by the Higher Education Authority who will consult with all the interested parties.
Is the Minister satisfied? The indications are that the authorities, staff and students of these training colleges are totally dissatisfied with the failure of the Minister to implement the promises he made of educational reform. Will the Minister now tell the House whether he intends to implement these reforms and, if so, when?
That is a separate question, but I do not mind answering it. Very full discussions are taking place with everybody concerned with the training colleges. The Higher Education Authority is examining in very great detail a complex matter involving the integration of the teacher-training colleges with the universities. This is not a matter that can be dealt with by instant decision, as some people seem to think. I hope to have the recommendations of the Higher Education Authority before the end of the year and to be able to start a common university degree course for all teachers in the academic year commencing October, 1970. I cannot say exactly, arising out of this complex discussion, whether this can, in fact, be done, but this is our target.
The Minister, as long ago as two years——
I was not here two years ago.
It was mentioned at the Congress of the INTO in Killarney two years ago——
I am here about 12 months.
——that these reforms would be carried out. The students and the staff of every training college in Ireland are anxious about this development and are most disappointed at the failure to implement the promises made.
I was in Killarney about 12 months ago, not two years ago, and I first approached the subject then. Since then we have established the Higher Education Authority and this is now under consideration by them. If that is not reasonable progress, then people are being unreasonable.