Committee on Finance. - Vote 27: Office of the Minister for Education.

I move: That a sum not exceeding £10,742,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1974, for the salaries and expenses of the Office of the Minister for Education (including Institutions of Science and Art), for certain miscellaneous educational and cultural services and for payment of sundry grants-in-aid.

Tá soláthar déanta le haghaidh suim £126,123,000 ins na seacht Vótaí atá faoi mo chúram. Léirítear ann méadú de £18,723,000 ar an soláthar a bhí déanta don bhliain airgeadais seo caite. I Vóta Uimhir 8 (Oibreacha Poiblí agus Foirgnimh) soláthraítear suim £5,000,000 le haghaidh tógáil, fairsingiú agus deisiú scoileanna náisiúnta. Is ionann an dá sholáthar seo le chéile agus 18.5 sa chéad de iomlán an chaiteachais atá le vótáil i gcomhair na seirbhísí soláthair.

Sul a dtabharfaidh mé mionfhaisnéis i dtaobh na Vótaí éagsúla is mian liom roinnt tagraí ginearálta a dhéanamh i dtaobh treo an chaiteachais le haghaidh seirbhísí an Oideachais. Cheapfaí ón méadú de £18,723,000 ar chaiteachas an bhliain airgeadais seo caite go bhfuil muid ag déanamh forbairt ollmhór in ár gcóras oideachais. Déanta na firinne, ní mar sin atá. Is é ardú ar thuarastail oidí de thoradh feidhmiú céim a dó den 13ú babhta pá, agus de chéim a haon den 14ú babhta pá, i dteannta le méaduithe gráid, is siocair leis an sciar is mó den mhéadú ar chaiteachas. Tá seirbhísí an Oideachais go trom-shaothrach. As gach £100 de chaiteachas reatha na bliana seo sa mheastachán tá £71 de i leith tuarastal agus pá. Dá thairbhe sin, tá an cúngarach ag méadú de réir a chéile ar an soláthar a dhéantar do oideachas agus cuirtear moill ar go leor scéimeanna inmholta a bhfuil gá lena bhfeidhmiú.

Gan trácht ar an ardú ar chostas tuarastail oidí, tá gá le breis airgid chun freastal ar an rannpháirtíocht inmholta atá ag neartú ag gach uile leibhéal den chóras oideachais. Sa bhliain 1973-74 táthar ag dréim le méadú 14,000 go spuaic-uimhir 777,000 ar líon na macléinn lán aimsire. Tá an uimhir macléinn atá ag fanacht níos faide sa chóras oideachais ag méadú go tréan de bhrí go bhfuil an rachmas ag leathnú agus de bhrí go bhfuil níos mó suime ag a gcuid tuistí i gcúrsaí oideachais ná mar a bhíodh san am atá caite.

Is gné an-taitneamhach den rannpháirtíocht bhreise go bhfuil a leithéid le sonrú ag an dara agus ag an tríú leibhéal ag cúrsaí sna coláistí teicneolaíochta agus ins na coláistí réigiúnacha. Tá an forás is mó le tabhairt faoi deara ag an ardteistiméireacht agus ag saincheardaíocht don dara agus don tríú leibhéal oideachais. Cuireann forbairt ins na rannóga seo den chóras oideachais lucht oibre níos léannta agus níos oilte ar fáil dár ngéilleagar borrach. Fáiltím go mór roimh an bhforás seo ach ba mhaith liom a chur in iúl don Dáil go gcuireann sé stró breise orm soláthar a dhéanamh chuige mar tá an fás ag teacht ag na leibhéil is troime costais sa chóras oideachais. Fiú, má táthar leis an leibhéal seirbhísí atá ann anois a thabhairt do líon scoláirí atá ag méadú gach bliain, meastar go mbeadh 5 sa chéad ardaithe ar na costais reatha atá ann faoi láthair de dhíth ins na ceithre bliana atá romhainn amach. Luaim na nithe seo chun go dtabharfaí sontas don staid bhríomhar in a bhfuil ár gcúrsaí oideachais agus, go contrártha, chun go dtuigfí go gcaithfear soláthar breise airgid a chur ar fáil don fhorás atá le teacht.

Ídíonn an dá ní dosheachanta seo atá luaite agam ár soláthar airgid go léir sa riocht nach bhfuil móran scóipe ann chun coincheapa nua oideachais a fheidhmiú.

San ráiteas gníomhaíochta a d'fhoilsigh an Comhrialtas Náisiúnta i mí Feabhra seo caite leagadh amach trí mhórchuspóir faoin dteideal "Oideachas": (1) fíor-chomhairle a ghlacadh le tuistí, le húdaráis scoileanna agus le micléinn; (2) cúram i dtaobh scrúduithe agus cúrsaí a aistriú chuig bord oideachais neamhspleách; (3) féachaint chuige go gcuirfí deireadh leis an bpolasaí den fhoréigin roghnach i leith na Gaeilge, polasaí a bhí chomh díobhálach sin don teanga le 50 bliain anuas, agus go gceapfaí in a áit fíor-pholasaí a bheadh bunaithe ar ómós agus ardú céime don teanga agus don chultúr.

San am gairid atá caite ó tugadh na gealltanais sin deirim, i láthair na Dála, go bhfuil dul chun cinn an-sontasach déanta chun na cuspóirí sin a bhaint amach. Ní hé amháin sin ach tá andul chun cinn déanta ar bhealaigh eile chomh maith.

Ba mhaith leis an Dáil eolas a fháil ar mhór-phointí an pholasaí atá ar intinn agam a bheartú. De réir mar a thiocfaidh mé go dtí gach Vóta aonair atá faoi mo chúram tabharfaidh mé mionfhaisnéis níos iomláine ar mo pholasaí. I gcoitinne, is é mo mhórchuspóir ná saoráidí ar chomh-chéim a chur ar fáil do chách agus, ag an am céanna, cumas an duine go morálta, go hintleachtúil, go haestéitiúil, agus go corpartha a fhorbairt de réir a mhianta agus a acmhainne. Caithfidh sé a bheith mar sprioc íosmhéideach agam leanúint ar aghaidh leis na seirbhísí atá ann faoi láthair don líon méadaithe atá rannpháirteach sa chóras oideachais. Is é mo chéad sprioc eile ná feabhas a chur ar an leibhéal teagaisc sna scoileanna tré chúrsa níos faide oiliúna a chur ar fáil agus le cúrsaí inseirbhíse do oidí a leathnú. Len a chois sin, déanfar laghdú ar ranganna móra bunscoileanna i gcathracha agus i mbailte móra.

An bhfuil an leagan Gaeilge den óráid ar fáil? Ní bhfuair mise cóip de.

Mr. R. Burke

Is oth liom a rá nach bhfuil mé in ann an leagan Gaeilge a chur ar fáil—tá deacreachtaí faoi leith ann—ach, chun cabhrú leis an dTeachta, caithfidh mé a rá nach bhfuil mé chun óráid an-fhada a thabhairt.

Ní mórán cabhrach dom é sin. Ba cheart an leagan Gaeilge a bheith agam má labhrann an tAire as Gaeilge.

Mr. R. Burke

Do bhris an meaisín atá againn sa Roinn agus ní féidir an leagan Gaeilge a thúirt don Teachta.

Bhí an meaisín ag obair i leith an leagan Béarla ar dtús?

Mr. R. Burke

Níl agam-sa ach an leagan Gaeilge seo.

Tá mé cinnte go mba mhaith leis an Dáil a chloisteáil go bhfuil sé de mhana ard agam soláthar níos leithne a dhéanamh don pháiste diphríbhléide. Chomh maith le dlús a chur le polasaí chun teacht i gcabhair ar pháistí atá ciothramach agus éislinneach is mian liom limistéir thosaíochta oideachais a rianú d'fhonn féachaint chuige go ndéanfar freastal ar a riachtanais chomh mór is a bheidh in ár gcumas. Ó tharla gur síor-phróiseas é an t-oideachas, agus go bhfuil an-tábhacht ag baint le hoideachas an duine fhásta beidh cuspóir breise ann saoráidí a sholáthar don té atá ar thóir an oideachais sin.

Chun mo chuspóirí a chur chun críche tá dhá rud riachtanach: athchruthú ar chúrsaí riaracháin agus bainistíochta chun dí-lárú breithe a sholáthar agus socruithe a dhéanamh chun fíor-chomhairle a ghlacadh leis na dreamanna go léir atá páirteach san oideachas. Déanfaidh mé cur síos níos iomláine ar na nithe sin de réir mar a bheidh mé ag plé leis na Vótaí éagsúla.

Sul a gcuirfidh mé críoch leis an réamhrá seo ba mhaith liom a mheabhrú don Dáil gur eochair do fhorbairt eacnamaíochta an t-oideachas. Teastaíonn oibrithe léannta, cliste, soghluaiste uainn dár ngéilleagar borrach. Is é ár bhpríomhfhoinse ná eagna chinn agus scil ár muintire. I gcomhthéacs an Chomhmhargaidh, is riachtanach dúinn na buanna sin a chothú is a chur chun tosaigh. Ar siocair go bhfuil ár maoin shaolta níos teirce ná mar atá ag tíortha Eorpacha eile ba cheart go mbeadh muid ag caitheamh níos mó dár gcuid rachmais ar oideachas chun fás a chur faoi ár gcúrsaí eacnamaíochta.

Ins na cúrsaí seo go léir tuigim go bhfuil dualgas orm féachaint chuige go mbainfidh mé an toradh is fearr amach as an airgead a chuirtear ar fáil dom. Is é sin, go díreach, an rud atá mé ag iarraidh a dhéanamh faoin scéim nua bhúiste atá ag obair in mo Roinn. Le mionanailís, agus teicníochtaí eile, tá mé ag cinntiú go gcaithfear an t-airgead a bhíonn ar fáil sa dóigh is éifeachtaí agus is tairbhí. Sula dtabharfaidh mé an mioneolas i dtaobh gach Vóta don Dáil ba mhaith liom a lua go bhfuil cúram na seirbhísí seo a leanas curtha ar mo Rúnaí Parlaiminte, an tUas. J. Bruton agam—

Cúrsaí Ógra agus Spóirt,

Oideachas do dhaltaí faoi mhíbhuntáiste,

Seirbhísi Iompair Scoile,

An Leabharlann agus an Musaem Náisiúnta.

Anois déanfaidh mé cur síos ar gach ceann de na Vótaí in a bhfuilim freagrach.

This Vote for the Office of the Minister for Education embraces (a) the administrative costs of the Department of Education, (b) the services in relation to art and culture in the Museum, National Library and National College of Art and Design, (c) miscellaneous educational services.

The amount being sought under this Vote is £10,742,000, a net increase of £1,455,250 on the sum voted last year.

The principal items responsible for this increase are:

(1) Student grants for Higher Education which show an increase of £469,500.

(2) The provision of transport services which has increased by £298,000.

(3) Physical Education — an increase of £70,500.

(4) National Council for Education Awards — an increase of £69,200.

(5) Youth and Sport Organisations — an extra £40,000 is being provided this year.

(6) Administrative costs of the Department which have risen by £430,000.

The subhead for higher education grants to students provides for recoupment to be made to local authorities in respect of their expenditure on student grants in the financial year 1972-73. In the academic year 1972-73 there were 4,954 students holding higher education grants, representing an increase of 620 grant-aided students over the previous year. Each grant is made up of a fee element not exceeding £156 and a maintenance element of up to £250 for a student whose home is not in or adjacent to a university town, or £100 for a student whose home is in or adjacent to a university town. The number of grant aided students in our universities continues to grow and now represents some 25 per cent of full-time students.

The number of pupils availing themselves of free transport continue to grow. It is anticipated that by the end of the current financial year a total of 143,000 students (62,500 primary and 80,500 post-primary) will have free transport compared with 132,000 last year. On the financial side, while the increase of £298,000 this year is the smallest since the scheme for free transport was introduced, I am not satisfied with the trend of costs. The cost this year per pupil is 8 per cent higher than last year and is due to continuing wage and price increases. I am endeavouring by means of better occupancy, increased integration of services to primary and post-primary schools and other economies to minimise the increases in cost. I am having the entire accounting basis for school transport reviewed in consultation with the Department of Finance and Transport and Power, and I hope that as a result I will be able to effect savings in the cost of the administration of the scheme.

The House will be glad to learn that, for the first time this year, a provision has been made for pupils who are resident in schools for the blind, the deaf and the mentally handicapped to make regular visits to their homes. The fare subsidy paid to CIE in order to keep down the fares of school-going children who are using transport services and who are not eligible for free travel is now costing £354,000.

The absence of an authoritative body which would be empowered to grant a range of national awards in the form of certificates, diplomas and degrees has hitherto been a serious impediment to the upgrading and extension of technological education. Pending the passing of legislation for the establishment of a National Council for Educational awards, an ad hoc council has been set up to serve for a period of three years or until such earlier date as the statutory council has been established, with general functions to cover the promotion, co-ordination and development of technical, commercial, professional, and scientific education in the third-level non-university sector. Until such time as this legislation is passed, the incorporation of the council as a limited company without share capital under the Companies' Acts is being undertaken. The provision of £95,000 is to enable the ad hoc council to exercise the functions which have been imposed on it.

An additional £40,000 is being sought for the extension of aid to youth and sport organisations. The scheme is intended to help in the development of sport and youth activities throughout the country. The grants are made to the national governing bodies for coaching and training courses, the provision of equipment and the provision of youth leadership courses. In all 56 sports and 16 youth organisations are being assisted this year.

The salaries, wages and allowances of the administrative and professional staff of the Department are estimated to cost £2,400,000. The increase of £430,000 arises from the application of phase 2 of the 13th round and phase 1 of the 14th round of salary and wage increases, as well as the granting of grade increases to some categories of staff. The costs of the administrative services of the Department represents 1.9 per cent of the total provision for the seven Votes, which would indicate that these costs are being kept to an absolute minimum.

I am conscious of the need for an adequate inspectorate at both first and second level. While there are a number of vacancies within the present authorised strength I feel that it may not be adequate to enable a satisfactory evaluation of our educational system to be undertaken. I am having the needs in this regard of our inspectorate examined at present with a view, if necessary, to increasing their numbers.

With regard to the Gúm, I am satisfied that there is an urgent need for its expansion, if we are to make adequate progress in the production of text books in Irish. Included in the provision for salaries and wages is a sum required to create 25 additional posts mainly on the professional side.

There is one area within the ambit of Vote 27 to which I would now like to refer—it is the National Museum and National Library. For too long we have failed to make adequate provision for these institutions. There are problems of accommodation to be tackled but the financial provision for these do not come under this Vote. On the other hand, I have received a report from the staff of the National Museum suggesting ways and means of bringing the unique material of the museum before a wider audience and of making more use for educational purposes of the material available in the institution. The enterprise and initiative displayed in this report is most stimulating and I am giving its recommendations my fullest consideration.

In regard to Vote 28—Primary Education—the amount being sought for primary education, including superannuation of national teachers, is £44,504,000, a net increase of £5,702,000 over the provision for 1972-73. A glance at the different subheads will show that this increase is almost entirely attributable to additional remuneration of serving national teachers—almost £4½ million—and an increase in superannuation awards— over £1 million.

I would refer briefly to the one or two other items which show proportionately large increases as against last year. The provision in respect of grants towards the cost of heating, cleaning and painting of schools, at £689,600, shows an increase of £99,600 or approximately 17 per cent. This will allow of an increase in the rate of grant payable in respect of the periodic painting of school buildings and a consequent reduction of the amount which might otherwise have to be provided from local sources for this work. The total amount to be provided for free books for children of disadvantaged families is increased by £30,800 or 44 per cent.

There are some topics related to planning and development in the realm of primary education to which I now wish to refer. There has been much talk in recent years about the democratisation of the educational system and much lip-service has been paid to the paramount rights of parents in the education of their children. Yet, at the level of primary education practically nothing was done to afford to parents the opportunity and the right to be associated in some way with the management and conduct of the schools which their children attend.

In June of this year, at the annual conference of the Association of Managers of Catholic Primary Schools, the secretary of my Department, at my request, put forward certain proposals for the involvement of the parents of the children attending each national school in the management of the school, through representatives elected by the parents themselves. It might have been expected that anything that would purport to interfere with the mode of school management which has survived practically without change since the national schools system was introduced close on a century and a half ago would have been strongly resisted if not, indeed, rejected out of hand. Perhaps it was through fear of such a reaction that the effort was not made long since to establish this obviously desirable connection between the school and the parents of children enrolled in the school. Events have shown that if, in fact, those apprehensions existed they were without serious foundation. The immediate reaction to the proposals when they were aired was favourable. Since then, I have had an opportunity of testing the views of managers of Protestant national schools and they are generally favourable to the proposals. Such public comment as has been made on the matter too, has been approving and a climate is developing or, perhaps, has already developed, in which there is every prospect that a suitable and acceptable adjustment can be made in the system of primary school management which will significantly advance the democratisation of education and will assist both parents and teachers in the fulfilment of their complementary tasks in the education of the children.

One does not wish to be understood as implying that recognition of parents rights means accepting that the ordinary parent has expertise or special knowledge in the science of education. I would stress that the roles of the parent and the teacher are complementary and that it is the teacher who must be recognised as the professional expert.

I shall be speaking presently of a scheme for the regionalisation of our educational system at the primary and post-primary levels. In this connection I should say now that neither in relation to the suggested development in primary school management of which I have just spoken nor in the formulation of a general scheme for regionalisation will there be any attempt to make any of the interests accept proposals which they find repugnant, or to impose settlements that are unacceptable. The consultations which have been initiated and which to date have been conducted in a spirit of goodwill and mutual understanding and respect will continue until arrangements emerge which are suitable and acceptable to all parties. Educational reform in our country must not be based on bureaucratic edicts. It must be a truly democratic process.

Among the larger inadequacies of our primary education system over the years—and I am conscious that many would regard inadequacies as much too mild a word—is the inordinately high pupil-teacher ratio. Over-large classes have been too common a feature in our schools—particularly, though not solely, in the city areas and in new housing districts. Very often it is in precisely such areas that the best possible schools are required, to compensate for the disadvantaged social conditions in which the children are being reared: bad living conditions and squalid surroundings on the one hand; an amorphous non-cohesive population in the earliest stages of community formation on the other. No teacher, however well-qualified and dedicated, can give of his best when burdened with an impossibly large class and overcrowded classroom conditions.

Within a short time of my assuming office I announced a significant reduction in the pupil-teacher ratio to take effect from the commencement of the current school year; that is from the 1st July, 1973. While this adjustment of the pupil-teacher ratio may fairly be described as significant, one cannot claim that it ensures a satisfactory situation, in so far as class sizes are concerned, for all pupils in national schools, or a satisfactory teaching situation for each teacher. However, it will certainly improve the position disclosed by a survey undertaken by the Dublin city and county branches of the INTO, the results of which were communicated to me in mid-May of this year. The survey covered 333 schools in Dublin city and county, with a gross enrolment of almost 128,000 pupils in 3,087 classes. This gives— if my mathematics are correct—an overall average of 41 pupils per class. There were, however, 1,021 classes with more than 45 pupils—that is, 33 per cent of the total; and 109 of those classes had more than 50 pupils per class. The circular announcing the revised pupil-teacher ratio provided that, as from the commencement of the 1973-74 school year the enrolment in any one class must not exceed 45 pupils.

It is not, of course, satisfactory that we should be envisaging classes of 45 pupils in our national schools, but we shall continue our efforts to improve the situation progressively so that this obstacle to the full realisation of the objectives of education at the primary level may be cleared from the path of teachers and pupils.

In regard to educational priority areas, special education, which provides for the special needs of those who are physically, psychologically or mentally handicapped, or who are socially disadvantaged, is developing and expanding on lines which are producing good results, and in accordance with an organisation which has drawn envious admiration from persons in other countries who are engaged in this field, either as educationists or in some other professional capacity. To say this is not to express a complacency about our present state of advancement in special education. Deputies can be assured that, far from there being any attitude of complacency, there is a continuing appraisal of the principles and methodology applied in the various activities of special education and there is constant consultation between my Department and those engaged in the work of the special schools and classes. These include, of course, the teachers, but also medical doctors, psychiatrists, psychologists, educationists, social workers and parents. All share the common objective of seeking so to improve and develop the special educational services as to meet in the best possible way the requirements of those who have recourse to those services. Some of the activities of this appraisal and research may not appear very spectacular, but they can result in great benefit to individuals and groups of individuals. As an example of the type of exercise to which I am referring I would instance the institution this year of a pilot scheme for older pupils in one of the schools for the mentally handicapped, in which they will be given an introductory training for sheltered workshop employment.

When I spoke a short time ago about the pupil-teacher ratio in primary schools I made reference to disadvantageous social conditions existing in certain types of area, conditions which are reflected in the school, creating serious problems for both pupils and teachers. A survey has already been instituted by my Department with a view to establishing where these social disadvantages exist to such degree that special provision should be made to moderate the effect they have on the education of the children. For such areas—which would be regarded as "educational priority areas"—special steps would need to be taken if the ideal of equality of opportunity in education is to be attained. The problem is not just one of education—in the sense of schooling—only. Its solution would not be merely the appointment in the schools affected of teachers in excess of what would be sanctioned ordinarily in schools of similar size.

Among the factors that make up the problem are: lack of appreciation on the part of parents and of the adult community generally of the value of education, and a consequent absence of motivation among the young; physical environment that is drab, squalid and depressing; poor traditions of citizenship and personal behaviour, and so on. My intention is that a selected number of such areas should be the subject of study schemes in which sociologists and social workers, the appropriate health authority, psychologists, educationists and, perhaps, persons having other types of specialisations, would try to create conditions which would at the same time mitigate the social disadvantages of the local community and offer greater educational prospects to the children. I could visualise that among the steps that would be necessary might be the setting of a special curriculum for such schools—indeed, possibly a specially designed curriculum for each such school. However, I do not wish to anticipate what type of solution may be proposed, but there is little doubt that something out of the ordinary must be done to help this type of area.

At subhead C.8 of Vote 28 there is provision for the sum of £63,500 for a Special Educational Project. This refers to an experiment which was commenced four years ago in connection with the schools in Rutland Street, in central Dublin. The term of the experiment is for five years, and it is financed jointly form State funds and by grants from the Van Leer Foundation whose headquarters are in Holland. It might be described as a socio-educational project and it involves pre-school education and training, additional teaching staff in the national schools proper, social workers engaged both in connection with the schools and in visiting the homes of the children, nursing, medical and secretarial services, a school meals scheme and other features. The experience and knowledge gained from this project will, of course, be applied to the study of the requirements of educational priority areas.

For quite a long time now the inadequacy of a two-year course of training for primary teachers has been acknowledged by all, and the contention of the Irish National Teachers' Association and others that the teachers' training course should be crowned with a university degree has been considered reasonable. That there would be difficulties in bringing about these changes no one doubted, but it seemed to me that sufficiently long time had passed in contemplating those difficulties and that the time had come for positive action.

In addressing the annual congress of the INTO therefore, at Easter of this year, I announced that the course of training for primary teachers would be extended to one of three years as from next year, 1974. One of the consequences of extending the course by a year is that for one year—the second year following the extension of the course; that is, on the basis of my announcement, 1976—there would be no new teachers entering the service other than those who had already been graduates when entering on training, and those who, having been trained on recognised courses in the United Kingdom, had passed the supplementary tests which made them eligible for recognition as national teachers under my Department.

I am happy to say that the number of students accepted for training this year is the highest on record. The number of non-graduate entrants was 1,005, as against 887 last year, which was itself a record to that date. The number of graduates this year was 104, more than double the number —44— entering last year, if we can expect graduates to apply for training in future years in numbers similar to that for this year, and if persons trained outside this country on recognised courses continue to qualify for recognition here in fairly good numbers, it will help considerably to modify the effects of the "blank" year of 1976; because I have no doubt that An Foras Oiliúna, to which I shall refer again later on, will recommend that the present practice, whereby graduates are not required to follow the full course of training, be continued.

At any rate, this difficulty of a reduced supply of teachers in one particular year, and other problems which exist or may arise, must not deflect us from doing the right thing in regard to the training of teachers.

The policy of the amalgamation of small schools which has been operated by my Department since 1966, and which was mainly based on the valuable OECD report "Investment in Education"— which, of course, refers specifically to Ireland — is basically a sound one both from the educational point of view and in its economic aspects. The principles it contains were approved by my own party and by the Labour Party when in Opposition, and now as Minister for Education I endorse that approval. To approve the principles of this policy, however, and to justify the manner in which it has been applied are far from being the same thing. There have been too many instances in which the approach to the amalgamation of particular schools has been characterised by a lack of sensitivity and a disregard for considerations which had special relevance, and one might fairly say that there was a ruthlessness about the closing of some schools.

The case of the school in Dún Chaoin is one of which much has been heard both inside and outside this House. Surely this is an instance in which the cultural and social aspects of the situation should have been recognised as being worthy of special consideration, and the school kept in being. But no; insensitivity prevailed, and Scoil Dhún Chaoin fell victim to an attitude that was almost Cromwellian in its relentlessness. The pleadings of this intensely Gaelic community on the westermost tip of Europe went unheeded and the protests from all parts of Ireland of people who recognised that the closing of the school would be a serious blow to the preservation and propagation of all that is best in our cultural heritage were set at nought.

I was, indeed, very pleased that it fell to my lot, almost as my first act as Minister, to reverse the decision of my predecessor and to re-open Scoil Dhún Chaoin. I have been badgered by Deputies on the opposite side of the House who, in their desire to justify the misguided and unfortunate action of my predecessor, seem to wish the destruction of this precious Gaelic community. I will not be bullied into desisting from my efforts to revitalise Dún Chaoin. We cannot afford to squander so precious a part of our living cultural heritage merely to justify an administrative decision which may have been taken in quite good faith but was mistaken and unwise. It should not be too much to expect that those who profess an interest in the preservation and propagation of our language and culture should try to help in the effort to strengthen Dún Chaoin rather than obstruct that effort.

The general policy in relation to small schools remains unchanged. It is in the manner of its application that it is hoped that a more ready understanding of the educational disadvantages of the small school will be fostered. I feel it only right that I should now make it clear, in order to avoid later misunderstandings, that in ordinary circumstances no further one-teacher or two-teacher schools will be built, either in replacement of existing schools or as new schools. Neither will State grants be made for extensive reconstruction or improvement of such small schools. In using the funds which the Dáil will make available for school buildings and equipment from year to year we must aim at securing the best educational advantages for the individual community concerned in each school building project and for the country as a whole. We must avoid, to the greatest extent possible, deliberate expenditure on projects which would only preserve existing disadvantages or even create further disadvantages from the educational point of view. There will, of course, be consultation, and the views and opinions of those who may be opposed to the proposed closing of a small school will receive the fullest consideration. There may be occasions when I shall be forced to take a decision which will not be generally popular, but no decision will be taken arbitrarily, without the fullest weighing of all the factors involved.

Although the financial provision for primary school building appears, not in the Education group of Estimates, but in the Estimate for the Office of Public Works, it is appropriate that reference should be made to it here.

The first thing to be said is that the sum contained in this year's Estimates for the provision of new national school buildings and the improvement and extension of existing schools is the highest amount which the Dáil has ever been asked to sanction for this purpose. It stands at £5 million. The demands in relation to school building are very heavy, and in weighing the merits of one claim against another my Department must have some general order of priorities. First among the priorities must be those cases of new housing estates in which there is as yet no provision for primary education or where existing provision falls far short of requirements. Another priority group—small by comparison but of very great importance—are new special schools for the handicapped. There are instances of individual schools, of course, outside those categories where circumstances warrant their being given a priority rating but, in the nature of things, some projects will not proceed as rapidly as others. I hope to be able to eliminate some of the delays which might be caused by administrative procedures.

Officers of my Department and of the Office of Public Works are continuously engaged in study and research with a view to ensuring that in design, in structure, in materials and in cost the young children in our primary schools will reap the best possible dividends from the country's investment in education.

As Deputies are aware, the Report of the Higher Education Authority on Teacher Education published in 1970 recommended the setting up of a body to be called An Foras Oideachais with functions in the area of first and second-level teacher training, both initial and continued, and teacher registration. The authority also recommended that, as a first step towards the establishment of An Foras Oideachais, a small planning committee should be set up to make the necessary arrangements for the constitution of An Foras and to arrange for the appointment of a chief executive officer.

Having considered these recommendations of the Higher Education Authority, I find myself in broad, general agreement with their idea of an institution which would foster, encourage and promote the educational and professional interests of teachers at first and second levels and advise me and other competent authorities on these matters. I am not taken with the title suggested for such an institution as I consider "An Foras Oideachais" to be at once too vague and too all-embracing a description of a body with the general function prescribed for it. It would, I think, be more fitting to call it "An Foras Oiliúna" or to use some other appropriate nomenclature. I have recently set up an ad hoc planning committee to advise me as to the structure and functions of the body to be established. The chairman of this committee is Risteard Ó Foghlú, Uas., assistant secretary in my Department and the other members are:

C. Ó Broin, Uas.,

Principal,

Bishopstown Boys' N.S., Cork.

Dr. D. F. Cregan,

President,

St. Patrick's College, Drumcondra, and Professor of Education, UCD.

An tSr. Loreto Ní Chonchubhair,

President, Mary Immaculate College of Education, Limerick.

An tOllamh E. Ó hÉideáin, Professor of Education, UCG.

Mr. Kevin Meehan, Vice-Principal,

St. Brendan's Secondary School,

Woodbrook, Bray.

B. Ó Miodhacháin, Uas., Principal Officer in my Department.

Dr. J. V. Rice, Professor of Education, TCD.

Reverend Canon J. Ross, Principal, Church of Ireland Training College, Rathmines.

Mr. Séamus Rossiter, Principal, Clogher Road Vocational School, Dublin.

Mr. Desmond Swan, Lecturer in Logic and Psychology, UCD.

B. Ó Briain, Uas., Higher Executive Officer in my Department, will act as Secretary to the committee.

I should like to take this opportunity to thank the members of the committee for so generously agreeing to devote their time and talents to the task in question. Their experience and expertise extend over the spectrum of teacher education at first and second level and I am very pleased to be in a position to draw on their accumulated wisdom to advise me in this matter.

The first meeting of the planning committee will take place shortly. The establishment of a body to enhance and promote the educational and professional interests of teachers is a matter of some moment and I know that Deputies will join with me in wishing the planning committee every success in their deliberations. When I have received the committee's recommendations I will consider the further steps to be taken in this matter.

The provision under the Vote for Reformatory and Industrial Schools amounts to £793,000, a decrease of £233,000 on the amount provided in 1972-73. This decrease is largely accounted for by a reduction of £240,000 in the capital allocation. This in turn is due to the fact that the 1972-73 Estimates provided for two major construction projects which have now been completed and to which I refer below.

The total number of young people in these schools is 1,620, a decrease of 72 in the figure for the previous year —the designation of these institutions as reformatory and industrial schools was replaced last year for departmental and general purposes, by the terms "special school" and "residential home", respectively, as recommended in the Kennedy Report. Pending the revision of legislation, of course, the older terminology remains for legal purposes.

During the year further progress has been made in relation to the implementation of the recommendations in the Kennedy Report:

—a special school for boys referred by the courts was opened at Finglas in 1972 and has accommodation for 60 pupils. This has now been added to by the opening last August of the new remand and assessment unit there;

—the senior special school for young offenders at Oberstown, County Dublin, is just completed and will be operative within a matter of weeks;

—plans are being drawn up for the modernisation of the special school at Clonmel; —the first of the group home units at residential homes was opened in Moate last week by my Parliamentary Secretary; further units are under construction or at the planning stage in Drogheda, Cappoquin and Killarney and proposals for further such group units are being examined;

—grants are being made available to a number of residential homes to assist them in works of modernisation and adaptation which they have undertaken;

—a 10 per cent increase in capitation grants is being sanctioned with effect from 1st April, 1973;

—grants are being made available to residential homes to help defray expenses incurred on sending staff members to the residential child care course in Kilkenny;

—a grant is being provided to meet the costs of a special in-service course organised for senior personnel in the institutions.

In regard to post primary education I propose to take Votes 29 and 30 together as I do not consider that either can be dealt with adequately in isolation. Although the secondary and vocational systems are disparate in origin, the thrust of expansion at post-primary level has had the effect of underlining the need for unity in the system of second-level education. The post-primary schools had been endeavouring, with inadequate resources, to cope with the increasing demands on their services. The religious orders, in particular, at great personal sacrifice, put themselves in the vanguard of progress at a time when the State had not come fully to grips with the problem. However, in 1967, the State undertook to provide post-primary education to leaving certificate standard for all children. Once the State assumed this burden, the over-all rationalisation of post-primary facilities became imperative.

Because of this rationalisation it was found necessary, in order to avoid confusion which would arise out of the two different forms of second-level education that had been existing in our country over many years, to use a description that would cover both these forms. Hence, for convenience rather than for any other reason, we have been speaking of post-primary schools and post-primary education. These expressions are, in fact, imprecise, because every educational activity beyond the first level is post-primary, whereas in other countries the type of education to which we wish to refer in using the expression post-primary is called secondary education, and the schools in which it is given are called secondary schools.

We have reached the stage, I think, when we should no longer speak of post-primary education and post-primary schools when we have second-level education in mind, at least as intending to convey a precise definition. I have decided, therefore, that for the future all schools which provide second-level education exclusively will be described as secondary schools.

It is inevitable that proposals for rationalisation should engender resistance. Not only are the two systems disparate in origins and traditions, they are varied in the content and organisation of their teaching forces. Such circumstances render cohesion painful: even co-operation can be difficult. Many points are at issue: the size of schools, their courses, organisation and management, difficulties of staffing and responsibility—the list is not exhaustive. As to whether the present structures are flexible and resilient enough to adapt, my own view is that they are, given the goodwill of all the parties concerned and provided that attitudes are not mistaken for principles. There must be a climate of confidence between the State and the schools. I, as Minister for Education, have no ulterior motives in proposals I put forward for the solution of problems that must be faced and overcome if we are to fashion, as we must, an educational system that will carry us handsomely into the 21st century.

In connection with the provision of the fullest possible comprehensive facilities in secondary schools, it must be emphasised that adequate provision is possible only in schools of a size sufficient to provide staffing for a reasonably wide range of options in addition to a basic range of academic and practical subjects. In small schools it is clear that such a spread of curricular provision is not possible. This is especially true at senior cycle level for two reasons: one, because overall numbers at senior cycle level are considerably smaller than at the junior level and two, because a greater number of optional subjects must be made available in the senior cycle at both ordinary and higher levels.

Consideration must be given, of course, to local wishes and traditions in this matter. If there is a definite likelihood of growth in a particular area, this, too, must influence decisions. I am prepared to be reasonable on this matter but I must make it clear that economic constraints—and these are universal, not just an Irish phenomenon —require that the facilities provided relate to the size of the school enrolment. I would ask that parents should consider carefully the implications for their children of the factors I mention.

I will now address myself to some particular matters in the Votes which I feel deserve comment.

The amount being sought for these two Votes is £35,788,000 under Vote 29 and £19,774,000 under Vote 30—a total of £55,562,000 which is an increase of £10,458,000 over the previous year. Most of the extra expenditure is occasioned by the payment of the relevant salary increases awarded to teachers and by increases in the capital expenditure on new schools, including comprehensive and community schools and the new Regional College in Cork.

In relation to the regional technical colleges, seven—those at Waterford, Carlow, Dundalk, Sligo, Athlone, Letterkenny and Galway—have been completed and are in operation. The building of the Cork college is in progress and is expected to be completed by July, 1974. Building has commenced on a technical college in Limerick: it is expected that this college will be completed by September, 1974.

The running costs of the regional technical colleges for 1973-74 are estimated at £1,369,000, an increase of £509,000 on last year's figure. This reflects the expansion in numbers of colleges and pupils and the considerable progress we are making towards the realisation of our aim of making good the difficiencies at technician and higher technician levels.

I have arranged for the provision of a sum of £120,000 in this year's estimate to provide extra finance for the vocational education committees' schemes to provide scholarships to the regional colleges and to colleges of technology. The vocational committees have been awarding about 300 such scholarships per annum in recent years; the augmented scheme now in operation will not only increase the number of scholarships available to 1,200 but will bring the value of each scholarship into line with the higher education grants scheme. This will enable vocational committees to widen the scope of these scholarship schemes to include all leaving certificate subjects and so offer freedom of choice to all suitable secondary pupils to pursue third-level courses of a technological nature.

Two new comprehensive schools, Tarbert, County Kerry and Boherbue, County Cork, were opened in September, 1973. This brings the total number of schools to 14 and completes my Department's comprehensive school programme. The main purpose of these schools, and one which they are serving well, is to demonstrate the feasibility of combining practical and academic subjects in one broad curriculum, thus offering each pupil an education structured to his needs, abilities and interests.

Nine new community schools were also opened in September. These were in Mayfield, Cork city, Millstreet, County Cork, Galvone in Limerick, Clifden, County Galway, Moyne, County Longford and in County Donegal, The Rosses, Gweedore, Cloughaneely and Carndonagh. With the exception of Mayfield and Galvone, which cater for new city areas, all these schools were set up through the amalgamation of existing secondary schools. I use "secondary" in the new sense of vocational and secondary schools. The creation of the larger school units in the centres concerned has made it possible to offer a broad curriculum for the pupils. The development is also a further step towards correcting the academic/technical imbalance by bringing both practical and academic subjects together in one educational centre.

There are now 12 community schools in operation and negotiations are in progress for the establishment of further such schools in a number of other centres.

One feature of the community school deserves to be stressed. Apart from the comprehensive nature of the curriculum and the facilities offered there is the direct involvement of the adult community in which the school is situated, both in the management of the school and in the utilisation of the school facilities.

I have not made any provision in this year's estimates for the proposed examinations board. The position in regard to this proposal is as follows:

(a) A working party, comprising university and Department representatives, prepared a draft outline of the constitution and functions of the proposed board.

(b) This draft was issued to school and teacher associations on 10th July, 1973, and they were asked to submit their views to the Department by 1st October, 1973.

(c) These views have now been received, and a meeting to consider the matter further is being arranged for early November between representatives of the universities, school and teacher associations, and the Department.

I come now to apprenticeship training. In relation to the provision made in the Vote for Vocational Education I wish to say that the recent publication by An Comhairle Oiliuna—"Apprenticeship—A New Approach" will receive particular attention in my Department.

In general, I welcome the publication of this document. It is fitting that when all branches of education are being brought under examination and public scrutiny, apprenticeship education should be no exception. Certainly the need for continuous review and constant improvement in this sector, is accentuated by its importance to industry and to the economy. We must not, however, let this importance influence us to the extent of seeming to plan the education of the apprentice to serve the short-term needs of industry at the expense of the longerterm needs of society and of the apprentice himself. The view my Department will be presenting is that apprenticeship is a continuation of education; that apprenticeship education, in addition to providing the best possible training in the current skills of the craft, must provide also a good grounding in the fundamentals of science and technology associated with the craft, must continue through the formal—as well as the informal—processes of education to serve the social and personal development of the apprentice, and must provide in association with apprenticeship studies, at least the possibility of advancement to higher levels of education and training. We shall be advocating broadly based initial training to take due account of mobility and of the foundation necessary for future retraining.

It is an educational cliche, nowadays, that our schools must aim at individualising instruction, that is, they must provide that education best suited to the needs of the individual so that he, or she, can achieve his full potential. Individualising instruction in itself, however, will achieve little unless the individual can learn to know and understand himself. Self knowledge is not acquired without effort and still less without assistance and it is for this reason that my Department have taken as a priority the provision of guidance and counselling services for all secondary school pupils.

We, in this country, came late to appreciate the need for pupil guidance, perhaps because our schools were so small and work opportunities so scarce that there appeared little need for formal structures. Perhaps, because we are late in the field, we can avoid some of the mistakes others were forced into by pressure of circumstances. Certainly, the service being developed by our schools at present bids fair, when it is extended to all schools, to be one of the best in Europe. I say this not to boast, but to set a standard we must strive to achieve.

At present, there are guidance teachers in approximately 200 of our secondary schools serving nearly one-third of our pupils. This year alone we have released, on full pay, some 80 teachers to attend year-long in-service training courses in pupil guidance, and it is my hope to increase this training rate still further in future years in order to achieve the goal of a nationwide service within the shortest possible time. Every year's delay in achieving this end will result in thousands of young people leaving school with little or no sure knowledge of their adult futures.

In their schools, guidance teachers spend most of their time on pupil guidance work with individuals and groups of pupils, and to ensure that they are free to do this, in schools with more than 250 pupils, the post of guidance teacher is a post outside the normal quota of teaching posts for the school. This is a measure of the importance I attach to pupil guidance: only the principal and the vice-principal in a school may also be counted outside the quota. With regard to remedial education, where I am satisfied that there is a need for remedial education in a school, I am prepared to increase the quota of teachers.

The provision of guidance teachers alone, without facilities for their work on back-up services and support would achieve little. A guidance suite of offices, seminar room and other facilities is now part of the required schedule of accommodation for all new schools and for major developments of existing schools. Within the next few weeks I hope to be in a position to announce the provision of a scheme of aid for schools with guidance teachers to help them meet the cost of the psychological tests which are an important tool of the guidance teacher.

Within the Department there are now 18 psychologists whose primary responsibility is the assistance and support of guidance teachers in schools, and the development of the guidance service in general. It is my intention to increase the number in the psychological service until all schools, primary and secondary, will have the benefit of their skills.

Since I have just spoken of pupil guidance it seems appropriate to refer here to a facet of our educational scene which has grown distressingly stronger in recent years. I refer, of course, to the examination pressures on our students and on our schools.

Some years ago the catch-penny phrase "technological morons" was a common dismissal of specialists who, in the pursuit of greater and greater efficiency, seemed to be pushing human values and the "quality of life" to one side. The phrase came most readily to the lips of persons concerned with the more purely academic side of education, persons in whom the medieval conviction that it took nine craftsmen to constitute the whole man was still a living reality. They had a point.

There is a sense, however, and, alas, it is of growing import, in which we are now in danger of producing "academic morons". In a seemingly insatiable thirst for examination results many people are making a mockery of the very word "academic". The human values are being sacrificed as never before in the interest of grades and marks.

Let me say firmly that it is not the Department of Education who are producing this pressure. In fact, the Departmental pressure for "grades" instead of "marks" at the certificate examinations was in the contrary direction. What is now developing is a desire to return to marks in the attempt to produce finer and finer distinctions so as to facilitate choice between one candidate and another in a severely competitive society. This is surely a negation of educational values and dare I suggest that parents may be the prime culprits here.

May I appeal strongly to all concerned—parents, teachers, employers, institutions of higher education—to become more aware of where these pressures are leading us and resolve to resist them in the interest of producing from our schools whole persons ready to take part in life and not just objects of conservation for other processes. The road away from over-emphasis on examinations is not an easy one but let us at least realise that the road we are on is the wrong one.

The amount for the Vote for Educational Research is unchanged from the previous year. During the year a variety of projects were supported some on a continuing basis and a number of others were initiated. Among the projects was one operated in co-operation with TCD, Dublin, and initiated at the request of the Intermediate Certificate Review Committee. This project is intended to operate over a three-year period and to test the feasibility of developing alternative forms of evaluation which could be used instead of existing forms of examination at this stage. An Assistant Professor of Educational Research has been appointed by TCD and he will be supported by additional project staff.

Another project was initiated in Kilkenny under the guidance of the Research Centre in St. Patrick's, Drumcondra. This project consists of a home-based intervention programme for disadvantaged children. It is intended to run for two years. It involves a special training programme for local teachers, who then visit the homes of disadvantaged children and work with the parents of these children so that the teachers are able to get a better idea of the types of problems which create difficulties for the children and at the same time the teachers can guide the parents in helping the children towards learning. Preliminary reports indicate that the project is well received locally and appears to have a beneficial effect.

Another project initiated was a project on the development of alternative forms of musical education. This project is being developed in conjunction with Mount Temple Comprehensive School. This project will last three years.

A project has been supported in University College, Galway, on the request of a local parent group to determine the demand for secondary education through Irish in the Galway area for girls. This project is intended to last one year.

There is a project based on Shannon Comprehensive School to articulate, implement and evaluate an alternative form of curriculum in the junior cycle. This project centres around a new approach to the curriculum, at this stage in the pupil's development. It starts from the environment of the pupil and using this as a basis it attempts to achieve an integrated structure of studies which gradually leads to a wider view of our cultural heritage. However, by considerable attention to observation of the individual pupil and related guidance and counselling, it ensures that the interests and aspirations of the pupils remain central to the development of the curriculum. This project was initiated the previous year and was supported last year on an expanded basis. A number of other schools in the area, both secondary and vocational, are participating in the project.

The Department also support the project run by the City of Dublin Vocational Education Committee in conjunction with the Department of education of Trinity College, Dublin, concerned with the development of an integrated humanities curriculum and its dissemination and evaluation in selected schools in the Dublin area.

Continuing support was also given to a major project operated by St. Patrick's Research Centre, Drumcondra, to evaluate the effect of the introduction of testing in Irish schools. This project is supported also by extensive grants from American foundations.

A number of reports were received during the year relating to projects supported in previous years, particularly reports on science education in secondary schools and on the attitudes and destinations of students in the Dublin area at leaving certificate level and the development of the mathematical ability of deprived children using linguistic operators.

It had become clear by 1969 that if a more rational approach to the school building programme were not adopted we would be faced with crisis after crisis in trying to cope within available resources. Measures to offset spiralling building costs had to be found but most of all building projects had to be assessed in the light of the overall proposals for a centre as well as the capacity of the centre to cater adequately for all children, whatever their intellectual capacity. The studies carried out indicated that large schools, that is, larger than had been customary in Ireland, were necessary if we were to cherish all our children equally in making options available to them in accordance with their capacities and needs. The development of schools— what might be termed multi-option schools—which might cater for such needs in Ireland, runs parallel with similar developments which are taking place the world over. It brought with it the need to re-examine the provision being made for secondary schools in every area of the country resulting in the compilation of a school network map showing every secondary school centre with its catchment area. It brought with it the need to re-examine the educational input into the planning of secondary schools so that the multi-option needs of schools might be provided for. This is being done on the basis of an educational worksheet on which each school authority, aided by officers of my Department, develops its own educational and organisational philosophy for its schools.

A heavy investment of capital resources is required and capital resources will always be scarce. You will be aware of current problems being encountered by our nearest neighbour in its school building programme and many other countries have similar problems. We must, I repeat must, rationalise our secondary school provision if we are to meet our needs within available resources. The expertise being developed in my Department, an expertise incidentally which is already being availed of by a number of other countries, will enable the best possible use to be made of resources but school authorities must be prepared to look at the overall position and not just their individual situation if real progress is to be made.

On the subject of adult education I propose for the present to be brief. The whole question of requirements and the provision of facilities in this very important sector of our education system has been under examination for some time by a special committee. This committee have already furnished an interim report and I understand that their final report will be presented to me before the end of the current year. I will be undertaking a thorough study of the committee's findings and proposals with a view to making recommendations to the Government on the future pattern of adult education provision. I feel, therefore, that to go more deeply into the question of this important aspect of education at this stage would be to risk prejudicing important issues. This is a risk I prefer not to run.

I turn now to the Vote for Higher Education. Before proceeding to deal with it, I wish to invite the attention of the House to certain important changes which have been made in the format of the Vote for 1973-74 as compared with previous years. These have become necessary in consequence of the provisions of the Higher Education Authority Act, 1971. The Act came into operation on 15th May, 1972, and the current financial year is accordingly the first year in respect of which it has been practicable to give effect to the provisions of the Act under which the Higher Education Authority replaces my Department as the immediate source of funds voted by the Oireachtas for institutions of higher education which come within the Authority's ambit.

Another development of which I would like the House to take note is that in addition to the universities and university colleges, including St. Patrick's College, Maynooth, which are, ipso facto,“institutions of higher education” within the meaning of the Higher Education Authority Act, regulations have been made by the Minister for Education, after consultation with the authority, under which the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland and the College of Pharmacy have been designated as “institutions of higher education” for the purposes of the Act. These two colleges are, therefore, no longer assigned individual subheads in Part II of the Vote. Their grants are included in the global amount of general (non-capital) grants provided for in subhead A.2 of Part II of the Vote, and the specific sum proposed to be provided for each of them, which will be disbursed directly by the authority, is shown in the breakdown of subhead A.2 which appears in Part III of the Vote.

The total amount of the Vote for the current financial year is £14,407,000. This represents a net increase of £1,329,750 on the original Estimate for the financial year 1972-73 as augumented by a Supplementary Estimate and by the transfer from the Vote for the Office of the Minister of the provision for the general expenses of the Higher Education Authority.

The increase is generally accounted for by the additional subventions required by most of the institutions covered by the Vote to meet rising demands on their recurrent income caused by authorised pay improvements in accordance with the terms of the national agreement and by the upward trend of costs generally. No institution is receiving an increase in its recurrent grant which can be regarded as disproportionate to its size and to the range of its activities.

The university institutions, as is to be expected, absorb by far the greatest part of the provision for recurrent grants in the Vote—£10,051,600 of the total of £10,897,500, or just over 90 per cent. This represents an increase of £1,286,500, or nearly 15 per cent on the corresponding provision for 1972-73.

The 1973-74 total of the capital grants for the university institutions, exclusive of the provision of £400,000 for capital equipment grants, shows, when compared with 1972-73, a decrease from £2,655,000 to £2,080,000. The decrease is largely due to the fact that previously authorised building developments have been finished or are nearing completion and that further projects are in the course of planning. The position in the case of each institution concerned may be summarised as follows:—

At UCD stage 1 of the new library, which has been planned as a phased project, has been completed as has the administration building but portion of the expenditure on these has to be met in this financial year. Provision is made for further development of the new campus area and for planning expenses in respect of the next major building project. Provision must also be made for the transfer of the physiology department from the College of Science to Earlsfort Terrace where it will be located in proximity to other departments of the college's Faculty of Medicine.

At UCC a long-term plan for the future development of the campus has now been approved in principle. Provision is made for the acquisition of neighbouring properties required for the extension of the campus area in accordance with the approved development plan and for planning expenses in respect of the first major building project in the implementation of that plan which may comprise the first stage of a new library and of new accommodation for Humanities.

At UCG work on the new library and on three science departments is almost completed but part of the expenditure on these has to be provided for in the current year. Provision is also made for further property acquisition in accordance with the college development plan already approved. Planning of the next stage of building—for Arts, Celtic Studies, Commerce and Law— should commence in the near future.

The new restaurant building at TCD is now completed but here again provision has to be made for portion of the cost in the current year. Provision is also made for planning expenses in respect of a new arts building, construction of which, it is hoped, will commence early next year. In addition funds are being provided for the continuance of the major scheme of adaptations and renovations of existing buildings in the college.

At Maynooth it is expected that construction of a new arts library building will commence next year. Provision for planning expenses is included in the grant for the current year.

I should like to say a brief word about the National Institute for Higher Education at Limerick. Long years of local enthusiasm and activity were at least partly rewarded when the institute was formally opened in 1972. The people of Limerick may not have been greatly gratified when they first learned that they were to be given an institution of a kind which appeared to be somewhat less in standing than that which they had sought for so long, but I should imagine that their misgivings have largely been allayed by the manner in which the project has developed and is continuing to expand. The institute has seen the end of the first year of its degree and diploma courses attended by 116 students and has embarked on the second year during which its student numbers are expected to rise to 240. I have recently been presented by the planning board of the institute —whose energy, dedication and sense of commitment I would like to take this opportunity of commending publicly—with a very ambitious development plan to which I have undertaken to give the most careful and detailed study.

The 1973-74 provision for the National Institute for Higher Education is £200,000 in respect of current expenditure—an increase of £90,000 on 1972-73—and £500,000 in respect of building and site works—an increase of £210,000 on 1972-73.

The National College of Physical Education which will prepare all our future physical education teachers, male and female, is providing a graduate course of study over four years based on physical education, education, curriculum studies and a second area of study in which all students will have a highly acceptable qualification.

Much thought has gone into the preparation of this course and the special study of curriculum is a vital and novel element in its structure. Educationists in my Department are most enthusiastic about the fresh and innovative approach which is evident in all the courses of study. They are confident that the special needs of a developing educational system are being catered for in an enterprising and worthwhile way and I have no doubt but that the NCPE degree course will commend itself to the National Council for Educational Awards to whom it is currently being submitted.

As I mentioned last week, I intend to expand the college into an institute for the preparation of teachers of many subjects, including electronics, metal-work and woodwork. Education and the study of curriculum are basic elements in all worthwhile courses of teacher preparation and it is eminently sensible to centralise facilities so that teachers of many subjects fraternising on a common campus with their colleagues of other disciplines, may work in the best possible environment. In such a situation they will best learn to appreciate the point and the importance of what their colleagues in other teaching areas are doing.

Just over 200 students in 1st, 2nd and 3rd Year are studying in the NCPE at the moment. This figure will rise to 400 within two years or so. For the first time in the history of the State, young men and women are together studying physical education as a teaching profession in custom-built facilities. The college shares a superb 124 acre site on the banks of the Shannon with the NIHE and negotiations are proceeding for the acquisition of extra land nearby so that the recreational needs of both institutions can be catered for and buildings provided for training in the other subjects I have already mentioned.

The NCPE building and outdoor facilities are of a quality of which the nation can be proud. The facilities being provided include an eight-lane athletic track, a floodlit all-weather surface, a 33? metre swimming pool, a separate diving pit, a full-sized sports hall, a gymnasium, squash courts, handball alleys, playing fields, tennis/baseball courts, human performance laboratories as well as academic and social areas.

Their situation and their architecture are in perfect harmony with their environment. Functionally, students will find that the highest educational and sporting requirements will be met.

The provision of well-qualified, enthusiastic teachers who will, through the PE programme, affect the quality of life of our future generations is, of course, of paramount importance. I have no doubt, however, but that the influence of NCPE will be felt far beyond the shores of this country. For instance, I will be very disappointed if the standard of Irish sport at international level does not improve dramatically before the end of the decade. In saying this, I am allowing for the work in depth which needs to be done through basic school situations over the next seven or eight years.

All students will follow a course in Irish Studies and, as Irish Studies is soon to be introduced into secondary schools, it is highly opportune that teachers qualified in this subject will be emerging in the next few years.

May I say also that I have ensured that all NCPE students will be qualified to teach physical education through Irish should their schools require it.

The college has been fortunate in recruiting a highly qualified staff. A director has recently been appointed for a two-year period and, under his energetic control, the college is now operating effectively.

It is most appropriate at this time, when NCPE is launched, to pay tribute to the former women's colleges, St. Raphael's, Sion Hill, and Ling. They pioneered physical education when—let us be frank—its importance was not generally recognised. When the opportunity arose of having one college to cater for all students, it is to the credit of the authorities of Sion Hill and Ling that they did not stand in its way but graciously and unselfishly agreed to phase out their colleges progressively. Their last students graduated this year and it would be remiss of me if I did not take this opportunity to express to them the gratitude of the Government and the Dáil.

I would very much like to be in a position to report to the House that these significant advances in the field of higher education in one area of the country were paralleled by the positive developments in others, particularly Dublin city. A very searching and extensive examination of the form which a radical reorganisation of the country's system of university and higher education generally might best take has been proceeding almost continuously since 1960, first by the Commission on Higher Education, then by the Government itself, and finally by the Higher Education Authority. That these comprehensive reviews have not so far resulted in a widely acceptable re-structuring of the existing system must naturally be a source of deep disappointment to all concerned, but I would issue a word of caution that the extent of the problems and difficulties inherent in the whole matter should not be underestimated or be ajudged to be of less consequence than they manifestly are.

The imprudence of proceeding to the dismantling of a system which, however real its shortcomings may be, has served the country fairly well for so long, without first being fully satisfied that the system which will replace it will be a marked improvement in all respects, will, I think, be generally acknowledged. It must be remembered that here we are concerned, not with a short-term reform, but with a revamped structure which, it is to be hoped, will serve the country's needs in a changing world situation to the turn of the century and beyond.

All this is not to say that there have not been some noteworthy developments at third level over the past year or so. Since the House was last given a formal review of progress in education, the Higher Education Authority have published two very comprehensive reports—that on university reorganisation which is understandably the one which has provoked the more intense public interest, but of scarcely less importance in its own way, at least from the point of view of how the structure of higher education in the Dublin area will develop in the future, is the report which reviews the proposals made by the City of Dublin Vocational Education Committee for the establishment of a Technological/ Higher Commercial College at Ballymun.

I am glad to take this opportunity of paying a sincere tribute to the authority for the valuable contribution which these two reports make towards a resolution of the very complex problems by which the areas with which they deal are characterised.

With these two reports, which clearly isolate the principal areas of difficulty, we have, I think, now reached a point from which positive progress can be made. When the reports were published it was thought desirable to offer interested persons and bodies who might have comments or suggestions to make in relation to the various recommendations contained in the reports the opportunity of doing so in writing. An invitation to this effect was published in the Press in September, 1972. Government Departments who were concerned with particular aspects of the reports were also asked for their observations. The response was encouraging. Apart from Government Departments, submissions were received from 55 different persons and bodies, including the authorities of the University Colleges, other educational and professional bodies, the City of Dublin Vocational Education Committee and student associations. Some organisations furnished more than one submission.

Special machinery was then set up in my Department to process all the submissions received in the context of the HEA reports and to consider all the recommendations and views in depth for the purpose of enabling me to formulate proposals covering the whole field of higher education for approval by the Government. These procedures are being accelerated at my instance, and I am now in a position to inform the House of my personal intentions for the months ahead. When the Departmental examination to which I have referred has been completed and the specific proposals which I will make have been considered by and approved by the Government, I hope to see the proposals published in a White Paper which will be the prelude to the introduction of the necessary legislation to give effect to the proposals. It is, of course, difficult to set a time-table for these developments. I would like, therefore, to assure all those who are awaiting a decision that the publication of my proposals will not be delayed longer than is necessary to enable full consideration to be given to all aspects of what is a very complex question.

This, at least, is a plan. Its implementation will, of course, be entirely dependent on the out-turn of events. Difficulties will arise and must be resolved as they do. I have stated publicly on a number of occasions that the whole field of higher education is so fraught with complexities that decisions cannot be taken just for decision-making's sake without a full analysis and appreciation of all the factors involved. This is the policy to which I propose to adhere; it is a policy which is at the very root of my considered approach to the whole matter. Nevertheless, it is my fervent hope that when next I have an opportunity of reporting to the House on the Votes with which my Department are concerned, I will be in a position to record substantial progress on developments in relation to higher education along the lines I have indicated.

The amount being provided for the National Gallery of Ireland, £115,000, shows an increase of £11,000, due mainly to the rise in salaries and administrative expenses. This year the public attendance at the Gallery has begun to rise again after a fall off last year due to the fall in tourist traffic and bids fair to exceed the record 350,000. There are now several exhibitions each year from the reserve of paintings and next year it is intended to have an exhibition of portraits of famous Irish men and women in the last 100 years.

The scheme of public lectures and tours of the gallery was continued in the gallery this year and proved very successful.

As regards regionalisation Deputies will be aware that recently I initiated discussions with the various educational organisations on the subject of regionalisation of the educational structure of the country. I had a meeting with delegates representative of the wide range of interests involved at a meeting in my Department on 3rd of October and a further meeting of a working party took place on October 19th. At this meeting it was decided that a smaller group should be established to examine the draft document for discussion on regionalisation which was already available to report the group's findings on the issues involved and on the options open. Because of the confidential nature of the talks at this stage, I am not in a position to discuss the details of what took place at the meetings but I should wish to give Deputies an outline of my general approach to the concept of regionalisation.

I have already emphasised on different occasions that it is the fundamental policy of the present Government, and my own also, that educational development should proceed on the basis of full discussion of all important issues and with the full co-operation and general agreement of the parties involved. It is, I consider, merely an extension and amplification of this policy to seek to arrange that the decision-making process in relation to the organisation and financing of the schools at different levels should be decentralised as much as possible. In our educational system there is ample opportunity to give effect to such a policy of decentralisation without diminishing my responsibility as Minister to the Irish public for the general direction of Irish education.

The process—indeed the preservation—of society in rational and acceptable form demands the development of local enterprise and the encouragement of initiative in the social as well as in the technical and economic fields. The power of decision is a major stimulus to initiative. Education is an important part of the fabric of society and should be responsive to local needs and aspirations as well as fulfilling its other requirements.

Some power of direction should therefore reside locally so that these local needs can be met. Here, of course, I am merely echoing the demand for local democracy which is all round us, and with which we all agree in general though we might differ as to the extent of such local authority.

The primary system and the two systems of second-level education came into being independently, in response to different pressures. As a result each system is managed, administered and funded in a manner different from the others; moreover, each system is almost completely isolated from the others. Yet, for the central figure in education, the pupil, education should be a continuous and harmonious development and the formal structures which serve this purpose should be so coordinated as to provide orderly and regular progress. There is need for closer alignment between the different sectors as a matter of general policy but local circumstances will determine the detail of such alignment.

For historical reasons administration of education has been centralised at national level. Minor decisions of an executive nature and affecting individual schools are made daily in the Department—decisions which would be best handled at local level. A centralised department does not have the "feel" for local conditions that the closer regional authority would have. It is probably true, too, that the central authority is more alive to the needs and exigencies of the larger centres of population than to those of the small centres. Furthermore, the expansion in school population and the growth and diversity of the educational institutes required in a modern society place a centralised administration in the difficult situation of trying to develop and implement major policy proposals and at the same time service the enormous daily volume of correspondence on matters of a purely executive nature.

I have been very much encouraged by the constructive approach of the representatives of the educational organisations to the draft proposals which I had prepared as a basis for discussion. I do not underestimate the difficulty inherent in bringing about the cohesion and co-ordination of the different strands of our educational structure as it has developed but I feel confident that, with the co-operation and guidance of all those best qualified to participate in the work, a system may be evolved which will be fully in keeping with the needs and aspirations of our people to-day. One of my Department's connections with international affairs is affected through membership of UNESCO, an inter-governmental agency of the United Nations specialising in education, science and culture. We have in Ireland, as in most of the other member states of the organisation, a national commission, composed of persons prominent in educational, scientific and cultural matters in this country, one of whose functions is to tender advice on means of participating in UNESCO's programmes.

In this connection, an important event this year will be the publication by Gill and Macmillan, in co-operation with UNESCO, the Irish National Commission for UNESCO and my Department, of an art book entitled Treasures of Ireland, an illustrated history of early Irish art with text by Dr. A. T. Lucas, director of the National Museum. Evidence of the importance of the work is the fact that Gill and Macmillan are investing £15,000 in its publication, one of the largest investments ever made by an Irish publisher in a single book. I am informed that it is also the first occasion on which an Irish publisher has co-operated with an international body on such an important project and that the Viking Press of New York, one of the leading art book publishers in the United States, have already ordered 5,000 copies.

Finally, I should wish to make a brief reference to the 8th session of the Conference of European Ministers of Education which was held at the invitation of the Swiss Government in Berne from 5th to 7th June, 1973, and to the Seminar held in Dublin from 16th to 22nd September last which was conducted jointly by the French and Irish Governments.

The main theme of the Ministers' conference was the educational needs of the 16-19 age group. In view of the very great interest for us of this topic in the present stage of development of our educational system and the various measures being taken to provide a flexible and wide-ranging curriculum to suit the aptitudes and needs of the pupils of this age group, I was very glad of the opportunity of participating in the conference. I was able to hear at first hand what was being attempted in the countries which are members of the conference and in turn to indicate briefly what we are doing in Ireland and to offer some opinions in relation to the problem in general. I found the discussions useful and informative. I may say also that in connection with these conferences some very valuable documentation is prepared by the relevant international educational organisations which gives a considerable amount of information in relation to developments in the individual countries. I feel that on the basis of any reasonable international comparison our achievements are not inconsiderable and that our general approach is in line with that being adopted generally in countries with advanced systems of education.

It was opportune that a seminar on the same general theme was to be held in Dublin from 16-22 September, 1973, as it enabled an immediate follow-up to the undertaking of recommendations from the ministerial conference. The seminar was organised by the French and Irish Governments under the auspices of the Council of Europe —the first seminar to be organised on such a joint basis. Papers on the following topics were presented by speakers from Ireland, France, United Kingdom and the Netherlands:

(i) Technical education—full time, part-time

(ii) The development of the capacity for self-education

(iii) The needs, motivations and aspirations of young people

(iv) The education of those who have left full-time schooling.

Recommendations from the seminar are being submitted to the committee of General and Technical Education of the Council of Europe in the context of a project being undertaken by the committee in relation to the formulation of a report and recommendations to be placed before Governments in due course.

In conclusion, I desire to say that while it is my wish that we should keep ourselves fully conversant with and informed as to what is happening in other countries and are prepared to play our full part in the promotion of international co-operation in relation to research and the general alignment of educational policies, our firm commitment is to the advancement of our traditional cultural and educational values and that our energies and resources will continue to be directed to that end.

It is my first duty to congratulate the Minister on his appointment to this most important office. I have not had an opportunity of doing so until now. The fact that we were friends years ago in an educational organisation makes it easy for me to offer him my congratulations and good wishes in his job. There is an element of self-interest, of course, in congratulating the Minister for Education in one's country because, if education thrives, the country and every citizen in it will thrive.

At the outset also I want to congratulate him on the achievement which is somewhat akin to the achievement of St. Patrick who is traditionally regarded as one who banished the snakes from Ireland, because Radio Telefís Éireann and Radio Éireann were finding rats in schools all over the country from North to South, and various other pests and bugbears. Since the Minister took office, in as great a miracle as St. Patrick performed, they have disappeared from the media. I do not think the media have given up their rodent operation. I simply think the Minister has caused them to disappear.

There is one other point I should like to make at the outset. A philosopher—I think Heidegger was his name —had an intellectual problem. He could not believe that God was omniscient because, if he did, it would mean there was no knowledge left for pursuers of knowledge like himself to achieve. Quite recently, I was given some responsibility for education and the arts in the Fianna Fáil Party, and I feel as if the media decided that the Minister had taken to himself all knowledge and that the spokesman from this side of the House had none at all and, therefore, should not be consulted. I will not dwell too long on that point lest it be taken that, in a prima donna fashion, I am being jealous of the Minister's performances on the media.

Before I start to make some comments on the Minister's Estimate speech, I want to say that I feel a great sense of inadequacy to do so. As has the Minister, I have been a practitioner, in education all my life and consequently the burden of commenting on the activities of so many men at so many levels in the educational field is a heavy one. The onus is on me and I want to discharge it, but I am not claiming any kind of infallibility. I am making comments on matters in the Estimate speech as comments proceeding from my own knowledge, or from my own opinion, on various matters.

I do not think the Minister mentioned the marvellous new curriculum launched by his predecessor—I may be wrong about this because there was a little confusion at the start—which is one of the most heart-warming things that has happened in education in this or any other country for a long time. The idea of, so to speak, putting the little child on a pedestal and assisting him and her, guiding them along the path of knowledge, allowing them to develop their little minds, and to do things for themselves, to discover things for themselves is a marvellous one.

I might say that this type of approach at this level and at higher levels has brought reaction and the fact that the reactionaries are generally "Tory-ish" conservative people should not blind us to the danger that in throwing out the old system we might throw out the baby with the bath water. We must keep an eye on the basic tools what are traditionally called the three Rs, but not let them obtrude on the marvellous scheme which is being developed in the primary schools; the marvellous curriculum for which the Minister's predecessor must get credit.

In the secondary section the Minister is pinning his faith on that terminology. Over the years our educationalists must have been looking at what was going on in Europe but they did not state this overtly. The last section of the Minister's speech which I will deal with later mentions UNESCO. There are some very good publications by UNESCO which are worth reading and which indicate to us that we are not dealing with this problem exclusively, that other countries have the same problems and not all of them are trying to solve them in the same way. I am talking particularly about the Minister's problems with what were called secondary and vocational schools and the difficulty of getting them to cooperate and so on.

Some countries in Europe have simply modified the traditional system with parallel streams. In Britain, for example, although great changes were brought about in the 1944 Act, they really have not solved this problem either. The grammar, secondary modern and technical classification still obtains, although ideological efforts have been made, too, to wipe out the distinction. Germany also has tried to solve, more along traditional lines than by vast innovations, the problem of the junior cycle particularly of the secondary school. Belgium, France, Japan, Sweden, the United States and Russia are more or less on the same lines, that is to say, they have a junior cycle and everyone is processed in that cycle. There is transference also from the junior cycle to the senior cycle of modern schools, of science schools or classic schools.

The point I am making is that we tend to see things in isolation and to talk about problems here as if they did not exist elsewhere. The country tends to believe that we are a little bit late in the field. This is not so either. In France 1970 was an important year for post-primary educational developments or secondary educational developments. The explosion, as it was called, that came after the war, and which we purported to deal with in 1967 when the late Donogh O'Malley introduced his scheme of free education, had to be dealt with. It was a case of having a whole lot of new wine. There were old bottles around. Had we to manufacture new bottles or could we get the new wine into the old bottles? This was basically the problem; this is basically the problem. It is a problem underlying the Minister's talk about the size of schools and co-operation between different types of schools and so on.

The problem is more difficult in a country in which a system has been operating for a long time because a certain tradition is created. There was considerable difficulty in controlling the explosion which hit the schools as a result of free secondary or post-primary education. To me— I may be unique in this—the fact that we are not alone in this and that others are also doing the same thing and have the same problem is a consolation because we can learn something from them and they can possibly learn something from us. The small intellectual and social élite which was receiving secondary education was no smaller a percentage than the corresponding secondary school population in European countries.

The Minister mentioned that his Parliamentary Secretary has certain areas of responsibility. He referred to the National Library. He devoted a few lines to it. Later on he gave a great many more lines to the reopening of Dún Chaoin school. I almost exploded at that point. The position with regard to the National Library is parlous. The Minister knows that because he has got a report. He deserves castigation for spending so much time on his own little hobby horse of a school, affecting five or six people, and so little time dealing with this national institution which is crying ut for space. Lebensraum! We had the word—an ominous word—in recent history. That is exactly what the National Library is looking for at the moment. It is not getting it. The marvellous collection of maps has been sent up to Earlsfort Terrace but the maps are not available to the students. No one can see them. As of now the National Library is in a serious condition for want of space. The Minister has power to do something about this; he should do something about it and do it at once.

This year we became members of the EEC and the National Library has now to take a mass of documentation from the other member countries. The Minister knows very well how paper proliferates from Europe. A whole new building would be needed for this documentation alone. The efforts being made by the library to cope with an impossible situation are laudible. It is not right that the library should have to do this. It is not right that things which are not priorities should be made priorities and the National Library left neglected.

Admittedly the building is old and too small. The idea was that the National College of Art and Design would be made available to the National Library plus some space in the new Setanta complex. It is a question of "Live horse and you will get grass"; I think the horse will have to do without grass for a long time to come because there does not seem to be any sense of urgency whatsoever about this. Perhaps we will hear more at a later stage about it. I am appealing to the Minister to take the initiative in this now before the library is flooded out with publications from Europe. The problem will grow if something is not done to relieve the pressure. The efforts of the authorities, as the Minister said in his speech, to cope with a difficult situation are praiseworthy. They are prepared to take new educational initiatives, to provide history packs, and so on, for students. Without adequate accommodation, without adequate staff and without the essential finance they are hampered and hamstrung. The Minister has used the library and I appeal to him to treat the matter as one of urgency, as a matter of emergency in one of our foremost cultural institutions.

The Government information services are expanding. Their function is selling the Government. Money can be found for that expansion. The National Library, which is on a different level altogether, is starved of money and starved of space.

The Minister referred to provision being made for mentally handicapped children. I have been only a short time in this House but I know that the party to which I belong straitened itself in order to provide accommodation for the mentally handicapped. I am told by those who know—I do not claim to be an expert—that the advances made in this field are second to none in Europe. I wish the Minister well in this particular field. This is something which demands all our sympathy and all our respect.

The Minister referred to research in education. As far as I can see, the amount provided for educational research is unchanged. There is no increase. I regret this. The research going on under Dr. Kelehan in St. Patrick's in Drumcondra is truly marvellous. We need more research. We need more sociological and educational research into the needs of the community. The Rutland Street project will yield valuable information. The research into the curriculum is also important. Shannon research is important and so is the Trinity College research. The whole field of research has been neglected and were it not for the fact that the educational departments in the universities are so heavily loaded and under-staffed educational research projects could be allotted to them by the Department. In my view this would bring life to a subject which very often, in my experience, is lifeless.

The whole area of study of socially deprived children and their difficulties in learning needs careful study. In this regard I should like to pay tribute to Dr. Kelehan of Drumcondra for his work in this field. This study should give insights which should prove very valuable to the Department of Education.

With regard to teacher training, I accept that the Minister has already a committee in operation. For many years it has been mooted that the primary teacher when trained should be awarded a degree. I agree with this view. The teachers themselves will feel that they were sold short if they do not get this. The three-year training period is coming up and the people who are charged with the responsibility by the Minister of examining the possible relationship between training colleges and the university should be asked to work might and main on it and bring it some kind of recommendations as soon as possible.

I am aware that this is a very difficult field and that there will be touchiness on all sides. I am aware also that the universities will have to be satisfied in many ways about staffing, appointments et cetera but in this regard I feel it would be worth having a look at the Institute of Education in London, a college of the University of London, to see how it works out and how it relates to the university in general. As the Minister said of other problems, this is not an easy one but it is one which is worth solving and solving quickly because there will be a vacuum if the three-year period is under way and people do not know what is going to come at the end of it.

The educational awards degree was a possibility but I believe that the teachers, and the unions, are not too keen on it. As far as I am aware, they opt for the full university degree. I dare-say that the reason is more for one of international recognition than anything else. They feel a degree would have a better chance of international recognition even though these people would not necessarily leave the country. They feel that a degree which is internationally recognised is more desirable than one awarded by a purely internal association or institution.

The question of small schools and their amalgamation was mentioned. Many years ago, long before this became part of our educational living, I was conscious of the weakness of small rural schools. I was conscious of the hardship of getting to them, although when going I was not that conscious of it, conscious of the lack of facilities and of the difficulty of teaching when a teacher has to cope with four or five classes. I agree that amalgamation is necessary for the maintenance of standards and the provision of facilities.

Difficulties arise, social difficulties particularly, because people do not want to see a school closing. Various motivations come to play and there is trouble but provided the central school is not too far away and that the community is not riven by controversy, the central school is the best place to educate young children from the country. Children can be more comfortable with better furniture and heating and the fact that there are more teachers employed in central schools means that the teacher can give more individual attention to the pupils in his class. One might be inclined to romanticise small schools but I believe that it is a foolish approach.

I find it difficult to understand the functions of An Foras Oiliúna. I believe that its function is to examine teacher-training at the primary and secondary level but I am not quite sure if it is also involved in debating and discussing teacher-training with the universities. Perhaps the Minister, in his reply, might enlighten me in this regard. Will it, for example, be An Foras Oiliúna that will examine the possibility of a link between the training colleges and the universities?

With regard to the special schools the Fianna Fáil Party has a very proud record. The Finglas school was their idea and, as far as I know, the Oberstown school was also.

I have already dealt with the National Library and I reiterate my appeal to the Minister to do something quickly about the problem there. Nobody has asked me to make this appeal to the Minister. It is simply from reading reports, using the library myself and talking to people who use the library that the indignation arises.

The Minister has also dealt with the parent-teacher relationship and the question of involving parents in the management of schools. This idea is a good one. A certain conservative view that a parent on a committee running a school might be an interferer is an attitude which is out-dated.

The difficulties in this regard are not small and the Minister will have to pick his steps carefully if he wishes to get a scheme going. He will also, in primary schools, have to take cognisance of the experienced views of the Irish National Teachers' Organisation in this regard.

A reference to the high teacher/ pupil ratio, particularly although not exclusively in urban schools, highlights one of the major problems in the primary sector. My own children attended a primary school in Dublin city and in the early stages they were in classes of 45 pupils or more. I must pay tribute to the ability of the teachers. I never ceased to be amazed at the quality of the teaching in those circumstances; frankly, I could not start to teach at that level with such numbers of pupils. The number of teachers who must have been considerably harassed in the circumstances, and are still being harassed having to cope with such numbers of pupils, is great. They deserve our gratitude for the quality of teaching and the standards achieved; they deserve our sympathy and our best efforts to remedy the situation.

In last year's debate the Fine Gael spokesman for education said he thought one of the purposes of the amalgamation of rural schools was to release teachers for the understaffed urban schools. I am sorry the Minister has not said if this has happened and if the effect has been noticeable. Of course, it is not a process that will become apparent suddenly. When it will become apparent later is when the amalgamated schools are under way and when teachers are trained and start looking for positions. If the teaching positions are available in the areas that are badly hit from the point of view of teacher/pupil ratio, the vacancies will be filled and an improvement will take place in that way. However, I do not think that direct transfers from rural schools to city schools are common nor that they will be very common in the future. The Minister claimed the adjustment of the teacher/pupil ratio was significant but he admitted it was not satisfactory. The effort to improve the ratio by training more teachers should be sustained and is to be commended.

I mentioned already the research project of Dr. Kelehan, studying the problems of children in a disadvantaged area. Plenty of money should be made available so that pupils in such areas may be examined and studied, the results of the study recorded and the lessons learned applied in other similar areas. The disadvantages of the child living in an isolated area, a long distance from school, should also be studied in a similiar scheme. The Van Leer foundation might be willing to help in this instance.

The Minister has a problem with regard to new teachers when the first year of the three-year scheme is in operation. From my limited personal experience, the system of recruiting experienced teachers with the necessary qualifications and of encouraging graduates to train as primary teachers appears to be working well. I had some connection with one of the training colleges and I know the authorities are more than pleased with the quality of student they are getting. I mentioned already that I thought the rather long paragraph on Dún Chaoin is an exaggerated one, a kind of Don Quixote business. I think there are areas of more importance where there are serious defects that have greater need of the Minister's enthusiasm.

The major complaint levelled against the Minister's predecessor by the Minister's party in last year's debate was that the Minister had not shown the kind of philosophy he had, that he had not elaborated the thinking behind the various activities of his Department. The Fine Gael spokesman complained that the Estimate speech was stereotyped. In the last few days I have read last year's Estimate speech and I see that the format of this year's speech is the same and the philosophy is difficult to find. There are indications here and there of the Minister's thinking but, in my opinion, there is no general, cohesive philosophy behind the Minister's speech. The Fine Gael spokesman last year called for a White Paper on education. Now that the Minister is in office, I would ask him if he is contemplating issuing such a paper on the educational situation.

The question of regionalisation has been dealt with by the Minister in his speech and here, again, I have a problem. The Minister sent me the document on regionalisation outlining the proposals for county and regional structures but it was learned then that a different document had been issued some time before and I tried through the General Office here to obtain that document but failed to do so. Apparently the Education Times published the substance of it. I find it rather strange that when I tried to obtain the document I was unable to do so.

There is no particular value in regionalisation as such. If the region is one where there is prejudice and built in conservative ideas regionalisation could be a disaster. I do not think that is the position in relation to this country but I am saying that, on the philosophic level, there is no particular value in regionalisation. In Ireland we have now reached a degree of sophistication in all parts of the country which would enable us to regionalise the structures in our system but I wish to make the point that in communities where there was a great deal of decentralisation very often such communities had perpetuated prejudices and had discriminated against some of the citizens, whereas a centralised structure might be able to avoid activity of that nature. However, the standard of education in Ireland is such and the interest of our people in education is sufficiently keen to warrant an attempt at regionalisation.

Various problems will arise in this field if it is a matter at the country or regional level of watching a power play between the various groups. In that case it would be better to forget about any attempt at regionalisation. Again, if it would mean simply a power play between joint groups and the Department of Education, it would not be worth while. Many basic questions will have to be answered. For example, how much devolution of power would the Department of Education practise? One of the Minister's sentences is ominous in this regard. He says that in our education system there is ample opportunity to give effect to such a policy of decentralisation without diminishing his responsibility, as Minister, to the Irish public for the general direction of Irish education. The general direction of Irish education could be that the Minister would exercise a great deal of devolution but Government Departments are not in the habit of letting go powers that they may have gathered to themselves down through the years. That whole area of the relationship between the Department of Education and, say, a regional or a county education board would have to be examined carefully.

The British system, under which I worked for a while, operates fairly well. One's dealings, as a teacher, are mainly with the local education authority. Of course, there is also an examination system which tends to centralise rather than to regionalise. When one education authority operate a school in the south-west of England and one in the London area and when both schools take the Oxford and Cambridge certificate examination, the variety of regionalisation or devolution that might come is not found. Therefore, this could very well happen here also although, as I understand the document, it is concerned in the first instance with administration rather than with educational theory and practice.

The sentence in the Minister's speech which says that education is an important part of the fabric of society and should be responsive to local needs and aspirations as well as fulfilling its other requirements is true in so far as it goes, that is, provided the local needs and aspirations are sound educationally but I do not know who would decide that. It might be good that education would be coloured by the life of the community in the area. The Minister has said that much of the small detailed work could best be done at local level. I agree wholeheartedly with that but I had expected some information from the Minister as to what has happened so far in his discussions with the various interests concerned; whether he thought that he would be able to establish his regional system in the near future; whether he would have to modify it in the light of discussions or whether he has received any proposals from the various interested groups.

In the second document on regionalisation which I mentioned the county and regional system is outlined. That was a simple enough document but in the first document, the contents of which were purported to have been published in the Education Times there were very different proposals in relation to the hiring and firing of teachers and to the direct election of people to the county education authorities. I am a little bit in the dark. I do not know whom to believe. I tried to get from the General Office here a copy of the first document and I did not succeed in doing so. I should like the Minister in his reply to tell me if the first document went from his office and, if so, what its fate was.

One other institution which comes under the Minister's Department is the National Museum. Here, again, things seem to be in a very poor state. I must raise the matter with my good friend, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance. The facade is green; it has a scum in the national colours. The Publication Section of the museum is atrocious. There is no full guide to the museum. There are bits of guides on particular aspects of the museum but no overall guide. It is one of our showpieces for everybody and needs money badly. I know it is difficult to get money for everything, but it has gone so far that, again, a kind of fire brigade operation is called for. It should get attention.

Museums abroad are returning items to our museum. Some museums in Britain are sending back items. If the museum itself could adopt an outgoing policy and ask for these exhibits, I am sure they would get them. There is a large Irish section in the General Pitt River Museum at Farnham in Dorset, and it should be possible to make an offer for the Irish material in that. The Killymoon Horde was bought for £10,000, though Sotheby's valuation of it was £3,000. Money will have to be made available for purchases to the museum—and to the library as well, but I am not talking about the library at the moment—so that the museum can compete.

I understand that the National Museum in Wales has for the last 50 years a complete card catalogue. There is no simple catalogue available for our own National Museum, and there should be. I ask any Deputy who wants to verify what I am saying just to drop in some evening he gets a few minutes and have a look. What you can buy in the Publication Section is very poor—poor in range; I am not referring to the quality of what they publish. There should be a good complete catalogue of the museum.

As well as that—and I referred to this when we were discussing the Arts Bill—what the museum needs is somebody to sell it to the public, somebody to do for it what the National Gallery director has done for his gallery. It is part of our cultural heritage. Scholars have a very important place in the museum, but what you need as well is somebody who will make the museum part of the life not merely of the city but also of the country. It is the National Museum and, incidentally, should continue—I think relations are very good with the Ulster Museum—to buy or collect from the whole country, and it still does, as far as I know.

The point I am getting at—and it is a point I made in the discussion on the Arts Bill—is that when you are in charge of a museum, a gallery or a library, you must have an extrovert, a man who is dedicated to presenting what he has to as many people as possible in the community for which he caters. This need not necessarily be a scholar's job, although a combination of scholar and salesman would be a good one. The scholar has an honourable place in our society, in a museum, wherever he may be, but you also want the person who is able to organise his public, because the function of the museum is an educational one. Nowadays, with the emphasis on the aural and the visual, if you do not present and sell and so on to children, to young adults, you are falling down on your job.

Therefore, I would ask the Minister to take a look at the museum, to consult all the people who have special knowledge both in the museum and outside it and make a grant which will enable the museum to collect, to conserve, to study but, above all, in my opinion, to present what it has and to enrich the cultural life of the country.

The Fine Gael spokesman for Education last year called for teacher representation on the boards of community schools. He called very strongly for them and I should like to know if there is any move in that direction by the Department. If my memory serves me rightly, recently in Dublin there was a conference on education which dealt with the curriculum for the 16-19 age group. One of the points made was that the people in that group should be tested and consulted as to content. This is something that the Minister might keep in mind.

Has the Minister reached a conclusion about the optimum size of schools? Has he come down firmly on any particular number? For example, at one stage it was thought that for a school to be viable in the secondary section it should contain about 800 pupils. It was argued that there was nothing sacrosanct about 800. It was argued very forcibly from these benches last year that 400 might be an equally good number. The criterion applied was that education should not be governed by purely economic factors. I personally think that whereas economic factors must be taken into consideration with regard to a school which has its own life, its own spirit, they should not be the most important criteria. Would the Minister indicate in his reply if he or his officials have come to any conclusion on this very important matter? This is important to some schools because they are worried when they hear the demands of the Department regarding the numbers considered necessary for each school.

I am conscious of the "bittiness" of my approach but one of the criticisms made last year about the Estimate was that it was bitty. The system of presenting it, which is necessary to account for moneys and so on, tends to make reaction to it bitty.

I refer again to the question of our problems which arose from the population explosion in the schools and recommend that they be studied in a European and world-wide context. I mentioned this already and I said that there was some solace for me when I saw our problems paralleled in other countries. It was mentioned that one system or another solved problems elsewhere. We are trying to deal with a vast increase in numbers in what the Minister calls "secondary schools". We are trying several things: the idea of a comprehensive education where everybody is taken in, where there is a duty on society in modern times to place everybody somewhere in the system, and we are trying to make for more co-operation between ordinary traditional secondary and vocational schools.

I must mention here one of my pet hobby horses. I find it distasteful and completely untrue to talk about academic and practical subjects as if they were mutually exclusive. It has been said that the traditional type of secondary education was somehow harmful to a certain type of pupil who would be better dealing with practical subjects. One of the big troubles here is that of expectation. The leaving certificate as such, in my opinion, should not preclude a person from taking up a trade or an apprenticeship immediately afterwards. We are in too big of a hurry age-wise with everything. In some European countries students do not go to university until they are 19 years of age. Here, many of our students are not satisfied unless they have graduated at 19 years.

In the Ballinamore school which had co-operation between the vocational and secondary sections, very often the person who was best at Latin was the best also at woodwork or a practical subject. They are not mutually exclusive. There is not a type of person who is very good at the practical subject and consequently very bad at the academic subject, or vice versa. We should try to convince people who have followed what is called an academic course that added to this a skill would be a great advantage to them, that they could dedicate themselves to skilled trades of one kind or another. The idea is that the leaving certificate for a person who does not want to go to university is an entrée to a job and that when the leaving certificate has been obtained that person needs no further training. The idea should be got across that the leaving certificate does not keep a person from turning to one of the skilled trades. Where the schools have the practical and academic subjects the students have the mix and the background. In the past we were at fault there. We felt that the leaving certificate fitted the person for one particular line, the office, the Civil Service, and so on. I am talking now about people who did not go to third level education.

Many people think that the scholarship system in the regional technical colleges is inequitable and that it would be better to set a satisfactory standard, such as is set for the university grants. A student who reached the required standard could be given a grant payable in the regional technical colleges. I do not know what standard should be set for grants to the regional technical colleges. I have had discussions with the people interested in this and they seem to think that, if the same standard were fixed for regional technical college grants as is fixed for university grants, students might choose to go to the university. I would like to see a stage reached where a pupil who got four honours in the leaving certificate would not automatically choose to attend university. I would like to see them availing of the grants for attendance at the colleges on the Limerick campus or at the other regional technical colleges. When that stage is reached the prestige of the regional technical colleges will have been established. We should aim at that situation. The setting of a standard for an award to a regional technical college would help in such a situation.

The Minister had some strong remarks to make about pressure for marks and grades. This is relevant to what I have been talking about. The Minister spoke about examination pressures and said that the phrase "technological morons" was a common dismissal of specialists who, in the pursuit of greater and greater efficiency, seemed to be pushing human values and the "quality of life" to one side. The Minister said that the phrase came most readily from persons concerned with the more purely academic side of education.

I do not like those phrases. Whether the education is academic or otherwise, it is education. If followed by technical training it will be of advantage to the person and it will be of advantage to the person to adapt himself to changing technology. The actual skills learned will become obsolete; and if a man has not got what the Americans refer to as the liberal arts as a foundation, he will be lost. For that reason I am very "cagey" about using terms like "the purely academic side".

The Minister spoke also about the danger of producing "academic morons". I would reject that idea in toto. If the Minister means by “academic morons” people who are incapable of developing technical expertise after pursuing a course of academic studies, I doubt if such person exists. I do not think that is something that is credible. The Minister spoke about producing pressure on students for grades instead of marks at certificate examinations. The Minister said that the Department of Education are not putting on such pressure. The Departmental decision was to have a system of grades instead of marks. This decision was taken some years ago and it is one with which I agree. The Minister also spoke about the overemphasis on examinations and said that such overemphasis is not easy to get rid of. It is not easy to do in our society or in any other society.

In his speech the Minister might have referred to the problems of evaluation and the loss of confidence that many people have suffered in our ability to assess and the loss of confidence in the traditional means of assessment. This will play a very big part in the educational life of this country. Some efforts are being made to study the problem and to think of alternative means of evaluation and examination. Perhaps the Minister should have placed more emphasis on this in his speech, but it is difficult to fit in everything in a speech of this kind. From the study of recent publications I know that some research is being done.

In recent years it has been popular to castigate memory work. I am sure mistakes were made. While marking papers I myself have had experience of them. It is non-productive to "throw out the baby with the bathwater". Overemphasis on the value of memory was a mistake, but underemphasis is also a mistake. The story is told of Yeats who used to boast of his bad memory until somebody told him that memory was the mother of the Muses—and he was never heard to boast of his bad memory again. Memory is important. The training of memory is also important. People make a false distinction between memory and judgment. Judgment is simply the comparing of two ideas. Unless one can recall the ideas, which is a function of memory, one cannot make a judgment.

People make a distinction between the various types of schools, but they do not stop to consider the full meaning of what they are saying. In recent years it has been the common practice to make statements like "The Irish education system is rotten. All that it does is train the memory. It does not train the judgment." I contend that that is simplistic thinking which does not bear analysis, while repeating that in our schools there was over-emphasis on memorising work. That does not necessarily mean that memorising does not contribute to understanding as well. I have had evidence myself of people in our secondary schools memorising material that they did not understand. This could be eliminated.

I wish the Minister luck with his building scheme. I hope that he avails of all the architectural and planning schemes that are available in the field of school building and that he will make schools for our children which will be worthy of them.

I have a question on the Order Paper about adult education. From reading some of his contributions in various places in the recent past, I think he realises the importance of adult education and the changing scene generally. The idea of education being confined to a short period of one's life—primary, secondary and university—and that then the education process is over, is dying fast. The report when it comes will be very important. There are people who claim that operators in the field of education came into education because there was a great need and that in the future perhaps the greatest need will be in the field of adult education because continuing education, in-service training and so on for various groups, will have to be a feature of the future if we are to keep in step with developments in Europe and elsewhere.

When dealing with higher education the Minister dealt with various costs. He mentioned also the Higher Education Authority's work on what is the best structure for university education. It would take a long time to cover this whole difficult problem adequately but I should like to make one point. In university education there seems to be a very high administrative bill. Administration costs seem to be very high. I do not know whether they are proportionately higher than they are in other countries or whether they are proportionately higher than they are in relatively sized businesses but it is something which one thinks of when one examines the cost. Taking it all in all when one looks at the cost of the Education Estimates one feels that it is very important that value for money should be insisted upon because it is a substantial share of the nation's spending now.

The Minister stated recently that the Limerick institute, when it realised its potential, or words to that effect, would be established as a university. I should like the Minister to say how soon he thinks this would be possible. The copy of his speech which I got did not have any reference to this. It was probably an addendum to his speech.

One other point that struck me as the Minister spoke was in relation to the National College of Physical Education. Do I take it that all students who are doing the physical education course will follow a course in Irish studies? Will it be the students in the College of Physical Education who will take the course in Irish studies and will this qualify them to teach Irish studies as well as physical education in the schools in which they work?

I wish the Minister luck in his study of the various submissions which he has already got, and which he will get, on the question of university education and higher education generally. He very naturally is cautious and advises caution and says that it would be wrong to rush a decision just because people are getting a little bit anxious about the future of university education.

What I have to say on the National Gallery of Ireland has already been said on the Arts Bill. It is a credit to this city. The director deserves the praise of all Deputies from all sides of the House, the citizens of Dublin and of the country. He has made it a living place, an attractive place, a place where people are welcomed, where you see children romping around without any over-insistence on discipline. They are not being pushed or herded around the place. They are learning to look at pictures; they are learning to enjoy pictures. We are lucky that we have some extraneous financial aid for the National Gallery. The National Library is very active despite the fact that it is cramped for space and for finance. My vision is that the library and the museum, which really does need a face lift outside and inside, and the gallery could be a great credit to this country. Apart altogether from showing off the capital of the country, and that I suppose is important but it is not the most important thing, the contribution of those three institutions to the cultural life of the country could be great. All the library and the museum need is an injection of money. It is not easy to get it but if the museum in particular gets the injection of money and gets the right person to display the nation's treasures it will be an institution that we can be proud of. As it is at the moment it is not such.

Once more I apologise for the inadequacy and the bittiness of my treatment, which is imposed upon me to a certain extent but not completely. Speaking on international affairs the Minister praised the publication "Treasures of Ireland" by Gill and Macmillan. He did not mention what it would cost. I hope it is not exorbitant. He mentioned the conference of European Ministers of Education and what they studied. I take it that the conference in St. Patrick's Drumcondra on the 15-19 curriculum was engaged on the same type of study.

I mentioned at the beginning that our problems should be seen as part of the problems in Europe. There is a very good study in the educational series aimed at 2,000 AD which deals with the development first of all in the EEC countries and then in Russia, the United States, Britain, Sweden and Japan. It is very informative. Through reading about the problem of our fellow Europeans, and some people outside Europe, we can appreciate our own problems all the more, and there is some assistance to be gained from studying them.

Déamaim comhgairdeachas arís leis an tAire agus guím rath ar a chuid oibre. Nuair a guím rath ar a chuid oibre táim ag guí rath orainn féin. Tá post tábhachtach aige agus ní chuirfidh mise nó Fianna Fáil in a choinne fhad atá sé ag obair ar son na tíre agus ar son oideachais sa tír seo. Tá a fhios agam go bhfuil fadhbanna le ráiteach i gcúrsaí oideachais, idir bunoideachas, meánoideachas agus oideachas iolscoile. Ní bheidh le fáil aige uaimse ach cabhair fhaid a cheapaim, agus fhaid a cheapann Fianna Fáil, go bhfuil sé ag treabhadh ar aghaidh sa treo ceart.

I should like to open by congratulating the Minister on this very fine document. Since he took office in March he has proved himself to be one of the most able Ministers we have had in the education field. I look forward to seeing more of his performance.

I should like to start on the issue of primary education. We all start school at primary level. I was happy with some of the remarks made by the Minister but I should like to point out some weaknesses, as I see them. The school leaving age has been raised to 15 years. In many primary schools, students who are not going on to second level education are stuck in a rut. We must overcome this. It is not good enough to say that the school-leaving age is 15 years now and our standards have been raised.

Most of our students go on to second level education, but the people who terminate at primary level find this of no great benefit because the facilities are not there. I urge the Minister to set a level whereby students who intend to terminate at 15 years will have a group certificate level, or intercert level as we know it now, or something of that order. When we achieve that we can rightly say that our standards have increased. It is the children of deprived families and from lower income groups who suffer.

The figure for 1969, which is not a very up to date figure, shows that 6,000 children terminated school at the age of 14 years. I have not got the figure for the current year, but to me that shows that something is wrong in the whole educational structure. It is something which must be tackled. In the higher echelons of education there are the strong lobby groups, the articulate people who can lobby and make their presence felt, but in the primary area the people who are terminating their education early have no lobby and are not interested in lobbying. The Department must examine this thoroughly.

I am glad to see that the Minister is setting up a section which will deal with deprived areas. I should like to see him set up a social welfare section within his Department to deal with the problems such as those we are talking about now. We should not just confine it to the lower income group areas and the working class areas. In the middle class areas we now have, unfortunately, the advent of broken homes. Very often pupils tend to go off the rails and they need guidance. This is where a social welfare section within the Department of Education could cope. I would ask the Minister to broaden the scope and to concentrate on areas where there is a high incidence of school leavers at 15 years.

The secondary and comprehensive side is also very important. Over the past few years we have been talking about comprehensive and community schools. At times we do not know what to call them, and whether to call them community or comprehensive schools. This is an innovation and it is a first-class step towards giving students a far broader type of education. Heretofore they tended to wander into any school. Deputy Wilson does not like the emphasis to be put on academic or technical education, but I believe there are people who wish to go for the academic and technical side in their own way. Under the one roof this can now be done. People are not forced into a choice at an early age to find later that they made the wrong choice. They can now develop their talents in the community schools far better than they could in the past because they were confined to the academic side. This will make a tremendous difference.

We see the regional colleges and technical colleges developing throughout the country. To me this is a very heartening step. For too long this country looked upon technical education as a very poor relation, whilst fast developing countries saw it as a very important aspect of education and were not slow to grasp it. Fortunately we are now doing this. I am glad to see this chain of colleges of technology right along the coast in the West. With the implementation of a policy of regionalisation we will, through these colleges, have the expertise and the know-how to attract industry to that area. I should like the diplomas, or whatever certificates are granted, to keep pace with those granted in the European Community. I am not saying that is not being done, but it is important that it should be done because there will be interchange ability of workers and I do not want to see Irish technicians going into Europe at a disadvantage, to be told when they arrive that whatever degree or diploma they have is not recognised. Degrees and diplomas must have the same merit as those of the countries to which Irish workers go. We have come up against this in the past and we know that it caused many problems for Irish emigrants.

I was asked recently to meet some of my constituents because they wanted to make some representations about the dental hospital. This hospital is in my constituency. They told me the conditions there were a disgrace. I promised to look into the matter and I went along and met some of the senior professors. I asked them to take me on a conducted tour of the hospital. This they did. We often talk about preserving the image of our Georgian buildings. In the case of the dental hospital we are in its interior preserving a Victorian image.

I hesitate to interrupt the Deputy, but it seems to me the matter to which he is referring would be more appropriate on another Estimate.

I am open to correction, but I am told that the Minister for Education has responsibility. In last year's Book of Estimates a sum of £245,000 was provided for this hospital. The number of staff is not very large so this money could not be provided for the purpose of paying the staff. The hospital authority said the Minister for Education is responsible because it is a teaching hospital. I do not think I would be out of order in pursuing the matter.

With brevity, yes.

It is important that the position should be highlighted. My constituents are concerned and so I must raise the issue. I would urge the Minister to visit this establishment and make his own observations. I believe that, if he does so, he will recommend a new dental hospital within the complex of a general hospital under the auspices of the Department of Health. Dental health is as important as any other aspect of health. I ask the Minister to look into the situation. I know he will because he has been most diligent in all his activities to date.

The Minister is awaiting a report on adult education. Roughly about £19,000 is being provided for adult education this year. That is a ridiculous sum to provide for adult education, because adult education has tremendous potential. There is a school in my constituency, the Dunevin Educational Centre at 38 Synge Street. It is being run for girls by a group. It caters for 120 girls. It is a club-cum-educational centre. It is attracting people who finished school at an early age. These are now getting a greater appreciation of education and a greater appreciation of art and culture generally. Some are going on to do their leaving certificate. I shall be talking to the Minister again about this project.

Where primary education is concerned, I am glad that the idea of parent-teacher associations is now coming to fruition. As the Minister said, a great deal of lip service was paid to this idea in the past, but no action was taken. I should like to see primary schools in working-class areas used as community centres, as places in which arts and crafts could be taught to the parents of the children attending the schools. That would make them feel that the school was part of their community and not just some place which closed down at four o'clock in the evening. Schools should be part of the social life of the community. Because of the development of technology the idea of doing things for oneself has ceased to have the strong appeal it should have; arts and crafts are on the decline. If we could get the parents interested in the way I have suggested the schools would become more meaningful; and this would result, I believe, in eliminating so many early leavers because they would feel part of something. In the deprived and depressed areas they do not feel they are part of our society. They are, of course, but that is something that has to be brought home to them and that can be done if my suggestion is adopted.

I am disappointed at the amount of money provided for audio-visual aids. The sum is being reduced from £5,000 last year to £3,000 this year. That to me is rather sad. I do not know the reason for it, and there may be a very good reason for this reduction, but it is something that should be looked at. The amount for audio-visual aid grants has also been cut back. The figure has been cut from £135,000 to £120,000, a reduction of £15,000. This is another serious situation because I believe that all modern aids should be introduced. For this reason when I see a cutback I want to know the reason why.

I should like to compliment the Minister on his attitude towards the Irish language. It was a courageous step he took and it has resulted in the pressure being taken off the language. In my view it will mean that people will tend to look at the language in a new light and to learn it for the sake of the language itself and not for the sake of obtaining honours or a pass in the leaving certificate examination. It will, in my view, be looked at and cherished as our native tongue. Taking this compulsion away will help and the percentages in the leaving certificate examination this year were up because students felt they were not under pressure. They were, consequently, more relaxed when they sat for the examination. There will not be as much antagonism towards the language in future. This step was long overdue and in years to come it will be seen as the right and correct one to have taken.

With regard to buildings and the design of the new comprehensive schools, the giving of the contract to one particular person to design was not a good idea. I am aware that the Institute of Architects, a very responsible body, were not consulted on the design. In my view, it should have been given out in open competition. I am aware that the present design was because of costs, but when we are talking about education we should consider that buildings should reflect the character of an area and its own character by way of education. Buildings without windows do not reflect very much.

Harping back to the size of the classes, I am aware that the Minister is committed to ensure at the earliest possible date, that the class sizes are reduced, but as long as we are talking of 45 students in a class— unfortunately this is what we are still talking about—quite a number of pupils will be deprived. In a class of that size the teacher is limited and is not able to cope with such a number.

In this regard the pupil who comes from a deprived home or is a slow learner is the one who falls by the wayside. Everything possible should be done to eliminate this injustice. It is an injustice when pupils are the victims of overcrowded classrooms.

On higher education, I should like to ask a question with regard to the faculty of town planning. Such a faculty was set up but I do not think it ever got off the ground. The result is that our local authorities—and I speak as one who is involved in housing in Dublin—are 50 per cent under-strength in their planning departments. In my view, some of the planners they have do not have the qualifications that an effective town planner should have and as a result we are designing our cities and towns badly. It may be said that this is a matter for the Minister for Local Government, but I have mentioned it here to stress the importance of getting a faculty of town planning started.

Another matter about which I was concerned was the fact that in the report on higher education the suggestion was put forward that the School of Architecture should be removed from the College of Technology in Bolton Street and sited in Earlsfort Terrace. I consider that such a move would be a serious mistake because the School of Architecture in Bolton Street is a first-class faculty. Most of our leading young architects have graduated from this college. One aspect about which I am very happy is that a student is not admitted to this faculty only on the number of honours he receives in his examination. A student must go before an interview board also. He is interviewed by lecturers on his interests in architecture.

The result is that we are getting a far better type of architect from Bolton Street. The people from UCD will challenge this, but that is my humble opinion. The graduates from the faculty of architecture in Bolton Street are very dedicated. I urge the Minister to see that no such action is taken in this regard because I believe it gives prestige to colleges of technology. It is important that they be given prestige in order to attract more students.

On regionalisation, there appears to be an amount of opposition to this. I believe that the Minister should have this matter fully examined because, as he has stated, too many decisions have to be taken at the top. Regionalisation —and we tend to be talking about it in other fields also—would be a step in the right direction. Regionalisation should be fully examined and given an opportunity to function. We may thread on traditional corns and have to do away with certain bodies, such as vocational education committees, but these will all have a place within a regional organisation. I am in favour of decentralisation and handing down authority where it is possible. For this reason I am glad to see the Minister taking this action. I hope he will be successful and that the working groups will come up with a document that meets the needs and satisfies the people.

It is refreshing that we are now going into the international arena so far as education is concerned. I am pleased to learn that we will be working in harmony with other European countries and that our courses will be parallel or in advance of theirs. When the seminars and meetings are in progress we will be in a position to see how other countries operate in this sphere. While we have a lot to learn in this regard I believe that other countries can learn a lot from us. This kind of international co-operation can only bring good, particularly now that we are in Europe. I wish the Minister well in his Department and I hope that he will remain there for a long time.

The last speaker described the Minister's speech as a fine document and I agree with him. Had I argued with him elsewhere that the years of Fianna Fáil government had seen great strides so far as education was concerned he would not have agreed with me. However, I describe the Minister's speech as a culmination of 16 years of Fianna Fáil government and I value it because it makes it easier to refer to what we have done.

The Minister could have given some credit to his predecessor but not once did he do so, not once did he mention the work he had done or initiated. However, the facts are that many of the comments in the speech are really compliments to Deputy Faulkner and I know that the Deputy will refer to many specific items when he is speaking in the debate.

The last speaker said he was delighted about the new colleges that had been started in the West of Ireland and the new comprehensive schools that had been built and he inferred that all this had happened this year. I hope that when the Minister took up office he felt somewhat humble when he saw the extent of the activities of the Department, when he saw the excellence of the officials, their knowledge and the pressures to which they had been subjected, particularly by his own party. I am sure he has a greater understanding now of their problems and what they had to contend with.

I hope the Minister will correct me if I am wrong, but I think that when we took office in 1957 total expenditure on education was £13 million. This year the figure is £126 million and this gives me a sense of pride. It is good to know that when the Coalition Government took office again there was this kind of money in the coffers. I hope when we take office again there will be as much money, if not more, to carry on the work we started.

The increase in expenditure of £18 million this year is substantial. The cost of our educational services are so fantastic that, out of this sum of money, more than two-thirds of it is spent on administrative costs—out of every £100 a sum of £71 is spent on items such as wages, salaries and other expenses of the schools. Therefore, it is important that we get full value for every £ we spend.

The only achievement which I consider the Minister has a right to claim is mentioned at the beginning of his speech—although I do not know if everyone would consider it an achievement. The Minister referred to three objectives: first, to introduce genuine consultation with parents. I always had the feeling that the real difference between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael policy in relation to consultation with parents was that the Fianna Fáil policy was to consult with all parents but not necessarily to take their advice, whereas Fine Gael's policy was to consult with all the parents and take all their advice. I wish the Minister luck.

The Minister stated a second objective, namely to transfer to an independent educational body authority for examinations and courses. I do not know to what extent the Minister will be able to keep a footing on this because, after all, it is the taxpayers' money he is spending and he has a big responsibility to see it is spent wisely. Perhaps the Minister in his reply will elaborate on the work of that authority and state what they will do.

The third objective of the Minister was: "to see to it that the policy of selective compulsion which had proved so disastrous for the Irish language over the last 50 years would be replaced by a genuine policy based on respect for, and promotion of, the Irish language and culture." The Minister blamed his own party as well as our party for the past situation. I do not think the result of that change will be known perhaps for another five years. I am sure statistics must be kept of the number of people who speak Irish. I do not want to be a hypocrite about this: I do not speak Irish myself, although I should like to. However, I think we should teach our children Irish and certainly I shall see to it that my children speak Irish and enjoy learning it. Teaching methods have changed not only for Irish but for many other subjects. The decision to make the subject Irish in the Leaving Certificate count as two subjects was a hasty one because the universities have not accepted that, and this has proved unfortunate for some young people when they tried to enter the universities. This decision harmed the chances of many young people this year, but perhaps it may balance out next year and this misunderstanding may not occur again. Nevertheless, it is very difficult for those unfortunate people who thought they had sufficient marks to enter university but found that was not the case.

The Minister has built his speech around those three points. I have tried to find where he has initiated any schemes of his own but most of the schemes he mentioned had already been started. The Minister stated that his broad aim was to provide equality of opportunity for all and, in the process, to develop the individual's moral, intellectual, aesthetic and physical faculties. We all agree with that because this is what education is about and we must always search for new ways of achieving this.

The Minister says that his minimum target must continue to be the continuance of the present level of services. Of course, it is our wish that these services would increase. The advent of free education meant that enormous numbers of pupils had to be catered for suddenly. It meant also that job opportunities had to be created for these people on leaving school. The first people to benefit from free education are now coming on the job market. We have always endeavoured to ensure that in so far as possible our people could find jobs here so that they would not have to emigrate.

I am pleased that the Minister has as his priority the welfare of the disadvantaged child. We have much to contribute in respect of education in so far as such children are concerned. After the Minister's appointment I pressed him continuously in regard to the Montessori method of teaching. I pressed him especially in relation to the recognition of the Montessori diploma in the same way as the qualifications of a primary school teacher are recognised. I am open to correction on this but in my view the first part of the new curriculum is very similar to the Montessori method. The Minister said that it would be possible to recognise this diploma on the completion of a three-year course. I would like him to indicate what progress has been made in this regard as there is great interest in this question among Montessori teachers. As I have said here before, my own children attend Montessori schools. When I was booking them for secondary school—I did that well in advance—I was told at the school into which I wished to book them that that school did not accept pupils until they reached the age of 12 but when they discovered that the children were attending Montessori school they agreed to take them at 11 because they said that children who were taught through this method are more advanced than others. The system was devised for the benefit of children who were slow learners but it has developed into being one of the greatest systems of teaching children who are not in any way slow to learn. I can only express the wish that more people would be made aware of that system and that the facility would be available to many more children than is the case at present. It would be very good if the Department would sanction this method for use by primary school teachers generally. They could re-name the system if they so wished so long as they recognised that the adoption of the system is a goal to be attained.

I can appreciate the Minister's disappointment in regard to his allocation of money in this year's budget but next year he will be even more disappointed, not because the money may not be there but because the task facing his Department will be even greater.

The amount of money being made available for sports organisations is a disappointment to me. A much greater contribution is needed in this respect.

In his speech the Minister states that:

Within a short time of my assuming office I announced a significant reduction in the pupil-teacher ratio to take effect from the commencement of the current school year; that is: from the 1st July, 1973.

As the Minister knows, that was made possible only because we had made teachers available, because the Fianna Fáil Government had carried out an extensive training programme for teachers. The Minister could have expressed as an aspiration the hope that the teacher-pupil ratio would be reduced. I admit that at 45:1 the situation is very bad. I do not know how any child can learn in such circumstances. Nevertheless, that figure could not have been achieved as a minimum level had we not made the teachers available. Therefore, the Minister is not entitled to take the credit for the improvement. I hope that the figure will drop drastically each year from now on.

The Minister dealt with the priority areas of education. There is much to be said for these special cases of children who are handicapped either physically, psychologically or mentally, or who are disadvantaged socially, but without getting the first right there is little we can do about the second. If I had been one in a class of 45 I would have had problems later. Every effort must be made to provide more classrooms. Deputy O'Brien referred to the question of the design of schools. I expect that when he is replying the Minister will tell the Deputy that the uniform design is in the interest of keeping down the cost of the buildings.

There is the question also of the teacher who returns from England to work in this country; whether such person can get a teaching post here on his return. I would like to hear more from the Minister in this regard and perhaps he would enlighten us also as to the availability of classrooms.

The Dún Chaoin school episode was an expensive political gimmick foisted on the children concerned because they will not be able to avail of the same advantages as can children who are attending the larger type schools. No one man can possibly educate children to the extent that is necessary in today's curricula. While retaining the culture and all we regard as being precious we have a responsibility also to these children. We must ensure that they receive a first-class education. If this had been a school to which children from other parts of Ireland would be brought, there might have been something to be said for the Minister's action, but it is a one-teacher school in which there are between five and ten pupils. We talk of treating all the children of the nation equally but in the case of Dún Chaoin the children are not being treated equally. Perhaps their parents are not aware of this. The Minister has brought a lot of trouble on himself in respect of other schools which were closed against the wishes of the people concerned. It takes a lot of courage sometimes to make a decision when the media get after you, as the Minister knows. You have got to say all the time: "This I believe" and this is one of the instances where they said: "We are in and we make a present of Dún Chaoin School." The Minister himself states further on in his speech:

I was indeed very pleased that it fell to my lot, almost as my first act as Minister, to reverse the decision of my predecessor and to re-open Scoil Dhún Chaoin. I have been badgered by Deputies on the opposite side of the House——

Maybe one or two Deputies; I do not know. I do not accept that and I would not ask the Minister to name them, but I would be opposed to this decision. The Minister continues:

I will not be bullied into desisting from my efforts to revitalise Dún Chaoin.

Nobody is bullying the Minister. He has done it.

We cannot afford to squander so precious a part of our living cultural heritage merely to justify an administrative decision which may have been taken in quite good faith ...

A little further on he says:

The general policy in relation to small schools remains unchanged. It is in the manner of its application that it is hoped that a more ready understanding of the educational disadvantages of the small school will be fostered. I feel it only right that I should now make it clear, in order to avoid later misunderstandings, that in ordinary circumstances no further one-teacher or two-teacher schools will be built ...

This is an admission that it was the wrong thing to do and I feel that those children will pay the price. I hope not; I hope they are all geniuses, people that our country can be proud of.

In regard to reformatory and industrial schools, which I understand we now call "special schools"—the previous title is something which we are trying to take out of our language —the Minister mentions the special school for boys referred there by the courts which opened at Finglas in 1972. This is one of the schools which was opened under our administration. I do not know if the Minister has visited it yet; I know the Minister for Justice has. I cannot tell you how impressed I was when I visited there a couple of weeks ago and saw the kind of environment these young children —boys from ten to 15—were in. Everybody concerned with the creation of that school deserves a good clap on the back. Great credit is due to the Department of Education which gave them what they needed.

The attention from the staff, and Brother Gregory in particular, was wonderful. I wish we had a dozen Brother Gregories and we would be really doing something positive for the kind of problems we have in underprivileged areas and under-privileged homes. Each of these boys has his own little room, which is clean; they have music at night, piped into them, which may sound crazy for children playing truant from school. I went around the classrooms and saw the Montessori method of teaching being operated; at least it looked like it to me. They enjoyed learning. They were drawing and making all sorts of little things. The minimum period for which a boy is kept in the school is a year. I wish more Members of this House would go and have a look at it, because it is well worth seeing. You look around and think nothing is being done for such children, and then you see something like this and you are really heartened.

I hope the Minister for Education has plans to open up quite a few more of these schools, not just in Dublin but also in Limerick, Cork and in other cities or on the outskirts of those cities, wherever they are needed. I have seen children being asked in court: "Would you like to go there?" And they say: "I would." It may sound strange but the children like to go to this school. Many of the children who are sent there are undernourished and rather small for their age. They are fed properly and enjoy all the facilities a school can offer.

However, there is a big problem when they leave there in trying to ensure that they do not go back into the same conditions from which they came. This is something else I should like to deal with later on: the question of a youth service for young people like this. There should be a youth organisation in every area in the city where these young boys live. The youth officer is told about a boy, takes him under his wing, makes him feel he belongs and is wanted. A tremendous amount of work can be done at virtually no great cost to the Exchequer, because most of the good work that is done is voluntary.

What we need very badly, too, is what has been described to me as an intensive care unit for boys over the age of 15 but under the age at which they can go into St. Patrick's. There should be another unit similar to St. Laurence's. Some of these boys have been truants all their lives or they have been in some other trouble. They have no fear of the law. I hope I am not impinging on Justice here, but Education and Justice are so co-related in this that it is very difficult to talk about one without talking about the other, so I hope the Chair will be patient with me.

Some of these boys are hardened cases. If they are sentenced to six months detention it does not worry them. They come out of the reformatory, as it used to be called, more hardened than ever. What we need is somewhere to send them where they are told: "There is no time limit on how long you are in here for. We shall release you when we see an improvement in you in this special school." The damage which is done around our city today is done by lads such as these—lads no one can do anything with. The Minister should visit St. Laurence's and talk to some of the staff there who are really dedicated. He should then set to work on getting what I would call this post-primary special school for boys requiring intensive care. If he does that he will immor-talise himself, certainly with me. I have not seen the other special school yet, but I would like to visit all of them.

This is a sort of post-primary place for a more advanced type of boy, older and more difficult.

Would it provide what you would call intensive care?

They both give intensive care, we hope.

What I have in mind— maybe I have not conveyed adequately what is needed——

The Deputy has.

Anyway, let us continue this kind of work. One of the big problems in this regard is that there is nothing like this for young girls. There are places for young girls who get into trouble but the people handling them are not really happy. There is one place which is more or less successful, but it has not got enough space for these girls. It cannot accommodate all of them. Many of them dread these places. The girls have been neglected in this field. A great deal of good work remains to be done. I hope that a special school along the lines of St. Laurence's can be started very shortly for that age group.

Some time ago I wanted to involve myself in youth work. I wished to know if we, as parliamentarians, could do something more, particularly through the Department of Education, to improve the present situation. I asked the youth workers to give me notes. I know it is not customary for Members of this House to read speeches but with your permission, a Leas-Cheann Comhairle, I should like to have these notes entered on the records.

What is the source of the document?

Youth workers gave me these notes. I am sure the Parliamentary Secretary has met many of them. He will not find the document antagonistic in any way. It is educational and informative.

What date is on it?

There is no date. If it is objectionable to the Parliamentary Secretary I will not read it.

It is not.

It reads as follows:

What do we mean by youth work? Basically youth work is out-of-school education. Youth organisations aim to provide young people a means of fulfilling themselves and of playing a meaningful role in the community. Youth organisations aim at the development of the unique qualities and abilities, which are inherent in every individual. They assist the young person to realise his/her own special value, both for the good of the individual concerned and for the benefit of the community. By its nature therefore youth work is community orientated and is concerned with the role of the young person in society.

The primary educators are the family and the school. The youth worker is not in competition with either a child's parents or teachers. His role is to supplement, and in particular cases to attempt to make good deficiencies. So for the child from a secure home and good school the youth organisation can provide additional programmes for recreation and opportunities for self-expression which may help the young person to relate to his society and to other young people of the same age. For the child from a deprived background, possibly with difficult circumstances at home and inadequate formal education, the youth group may be a means of providing a second chance education— this is particularly true for those who left school early, and who have entered "dead-end jobs". For these young people, the youth group can be seen as providing a safety net to catch those who have fallen through what we would consider the normal educational processes. Through the youth group and his relationship with other young people, the adolescent can learn the basic skills necessary to enable him to come to terms with and participate in the society in which he lives.

The role of a youth organisation and accordingly the youth worker, whether he is unpaid and voluntary or full-time and professional, is that of a social educator. He must provide and develop programmes for the young person which will equip the young person with basic tools of self-expression and communication. The youth worker must be concerned not only with his direct relationship with the young person, but with all the groups and organisations in society which are concerned with young people, for example, the health services and provision for the young offender, the family, the schools. The youth worker, and indeed the society in which he operates must be concerned with the factors which create what we consider "the youth problem", and not just with the problem itself.

What is the present provision for youth work? We have virtually no legislation with regard to out-of-school education and child welfare. Our legislation is based on the 1908 Children's Act, to which we have made only minor alterations. The State until very recently had not supported those involved in youth work, and even now only does so with limited resources.

We have, however, approximately 30 voluntary youth organisations in the country. These include uniformed organisations (Scouts and Guides), youth club organisations, particular groups organised by the religious denominations, and organisations which provide special services, such as An Óige. All of these organisations depend almost entirely on the voluntary youth worker, who gives up his leisure time to work with young people. It is probably necessary, both because of the question of financial resources, and also because it is desirable, that the voluntary youth worker remains the basis of youth work in the country. The question is do we provide adequate support for the local voluntary worker, and the answer must be that not only do we not provide him adequate support, but in most cases he receives no support from the community. Indeed his involvement in youth work is likely to leave him out of pocket, and the community's thanks may be to look at him, wondering why he became involved with "that lot".

While some funds had been allocated previously to voluntary youth organisations, it was only as a result of the 1969 budget that a heading for grants to youth organisations was included in the Department of Education's estimates. Even the figure of £100,000 proved to be an unreal one, as the heading served to cover both sport and youth organisations. Although the sum has increased, the amount given to voluntary youth organisations remains in the region of £60,000.

It may be a little more this year. The document continues:

In Dublin City there is special provision. This is through Comhairle le Leas Óige which was established as a sub-committee of the Vocational Education Committee under the terms of the 1930 Vocational Education Act. An Chomhairle provides some back-up services to youth groups, instructors, grants for equipment, et cetera, but it suffers from the restrictions imposed on it by its terms of reference, i.e. it operates only within the Dublin City boundary, it has no resources for capital projects and its terms of reference restrict it to young people of post-primary age (interpreted as 12-21 years of age). Comhairle's budget is probably in the region of £100,000.

Future development:

We must build on what we have, and that is, a great number of committed voluntary workers. We must maximise the benefit from their commitment, by providing for the voluntary youth worker back-up services, and above all adequate training for his role. To do this the State must allocate additional resources.

Already in Dublin there is the basis of a partnership between voluntary youth organisations and a statutory body. This should be the basis for future development. The partnership of voluntary organisations and statutory bodies must be real and effective—it must be progressive and a lively one, one which will be able to solve the conflicts which will, indeed should, arise. The partnership must not be a passive, careful, "I have my eye on you" one.

It is estimated that not more than 30 per cent of our young people are at present involved in established youth organisations. The existing voluntary bodies, with their present resources, are already over-stretched. Only with additional personnel and resources to develop new programmes can this figure be increased. The organisations have to be helped to make themselves relevant to the needs of a much larger proportion of our young people.

A new deal for youth work:

It is around the question of the training and the recruitment of personnel that a new deal for youth work can be worked out. We must train the local voluntary worker, and to do that we must train the trainer, and those who will provide the local voluntary worker with back-up services. The details of a new deal for youth work must be worked out with those with the experience and whatever expertise exists, i.e. with the voluntary organisations.

An outline for future development:

An outline of future development might include:—

1. The appointment of the local level by statutory organisations of full-time youth officers. These would work in close association with the voluntary organisations in that area. The possible framework in which the local youth officer might work are the regional Health Boards or the Vocational Education Committees. This would depend on how local government is to be restructured, and whether one might envisage a central government department of the family, or a unit within the Department of Health —or Education—for this function.

2. The provision of additional resources to some of the voluntary organisations so that they can attract more young people by developing their programmes and expanding their organisations. To do this they will need full-time development and training officers, so that they can make the maximum use of the commitment of the voluntary leaders.

3. The establishment of a course for full-time youth workers at an existing institution of third level education. There is no such course at present and there are no recognised training facilities for full-time or voluntary youth workers.

4. The provision of facilities around the country for the training of the voluntary worker.

Pilot Projects

The needs of young people will vary enormously from area to area. The needs of a young person brought up in Crumlin are different from those of one brought up in West Cork, or in a large provincial town. More information and research is necessary on what programmes and facilities are needed in each area. We must consider what age group we are catering for—if we do not do anything for the young person until he is 12, are we already too late? Pilot projects might be set up in a number of areas, which would have different characteristics in order to work out the most effective way of developing our youth services.

Financial resources and community benefit

Development of youth services will cost money. However all the evidence is that failure to develop our youth services will also be likely to cost money. Young people are energetic, and if we cannot find ways of harnessing that energy into at least neutral fields, and if possible into positive fields, it will inevitably be turned into an element, which will be destructive to our society. The evidence for this is the increase in the vandalism, and violence, of which we are only too well aware. The problem is particularly severe in Dublin, because of the greater concentration of population, the stresses, in many ways new to Ireland, of living in a completely urbanised environment. The energy which smashes a telephone kiosk must be diverted into an activity which is of value both to the individual concerned, and in the long term to society as a whole.

If we were to increase the State's commitment to voluntary youth organisations by 500 per cent the total figure involved would still be less than £1,000,000. The resources required in the context of total Government expenditure are minimal, the benefit of enabling our young people to mature fully, to develop their faculties, to relate themselves to the society in which they live, hardly needs to be spelt out.

I am glad to have an opportunity of putting that on the record of the House. It deserves to be there because anyone who cares to study it will understand what is in the mind of many of these young people who are very dedicated. They realise the lack of facilities in our city. We have nothing to cater for the under 12-year-old groups. We all know that particularly in the cities children of seven and eight years of age are on the streets. Many of these groups take them in but they are not allowed to use any of the funds allocated to them for these children. That is the law. We must have a programme for these young children. We must have a realisation that the seventies may be a decade of violence on our streets. We have a big responsibility to these young people.

To give an idea of the kind of conditions which exist in my own constituency I have a report from a youth club there. It reads:

The Parish of Crumlin can be divided into four more or less distinct groups or areas. Each area has a certain geographical autonomy, and its own distinct characteristics, e.g. Income level, job opportunity, density of population, etc. There are four clubs in one of these areas, St. Agnes' Youth Club being one of them.

The people in the St. Agnes' area are lower middle income group class. There is a high unemployment rate, both among the adult population and the adolescent population. School facilities for juniors appear to be adequate, i.e. everyone is catered for, but teacher-pupil ratio, curriculum content, etc. leave an awful lot to be desired.

May we have copies of that report?

Certainly. The report reads:

2. Approximate numbers of young people in the under 12 age group in the area:

There are 6,000 under 12 years of age in the Parish. In the St. Agnes' area there are about 5,000 (round figures)

3. Existing facilities (if any) in the area available to young people:

In the complete Parish there are five Youth Clubs—for a population upwards of 32,000. Of this figure, approximately 16,000 are under 21 years, and as stated above 6,000 under 12 years.

The existing facilities in the St. Agnes' area comprise of four youth clubs. There is one other club in the far end of the Parish. This means that the greater part of Crumlin is without any immediately local facility, and that four-fifths of these facilities are confined almost exclusively to one area of the Parish.

The effectiveness of these facilities is very much in question. The condition of the premises, the activities of the clubs, the quality of youth leadership, etc. do not reach a desirable, and at times, even workable standard. The contribution of these Clubs to the Crumlin community is certainly not what it should be!

4. Existing facilities (if any) in the area available to young people of this age group:

Of the five clubs in the entire Parish of Crumlin, St. Agnes' Youth Club is the only club which extends its "terms of reference" to children under 12 years of age. Effectively this means that one Club has a potential membership of 5,000 juniors.

5. Activities of the group since it commenced:

(a) Number of young people now catered for:

600—six hundred—under 12 years.

(b) Programme provided:

Boys: Boxing, Gymnastics, Arts and Crafts.

Girls: Arts and Crafts, "Creative" Classes—design, etc., Games, Choir Singing, Drama.

6. Present resources of group concerned:

See 7 all aspects of our resources are problematic ...

7. Problems experienced by group concerned including:

(a) Premises:

2 rooms. As we cater for 600 members, there is an obvious lack of premises. This problem leads to cramming. Hence the leaders spend most of their time "controlling the masses" and the degree of person to person contact with members is considerably taxed as a result.

(b) Personnel:

We have 13 leaders for the 600 members. This necessitates an intolerable leader/member ratio, and very much over-worked leaders.

(c) Finance:

There is no definite figure available at the moment in regard to how much money is spent on the Junior Section of St. Agnes' Youth Club. At present our funds for the Juniors come from two sources:

1. Money from the Senior Section of St. Agnes.

2. Subscriptions from the Members.

This gives a pretty good idea of the kind of facilities here. I have another report from a group looking after 1,100 boys and girls under 12 years of age who live in flats in one particular area. I hope I have conveyed to the Minister and to the Parliamentary Secretary the difficulties in these areas. The Parliamentary Secretary has become aware of the size of the which lies ahead. I do not care who gets credit for recognising that there is a big job to be done in this field. I want to see that job done. Much more pressure will have to be put on the Government and on the Minister for Finance to provide the kind of facilities necessary. I am not talking about a figure like £1 million a year. The figure may have to be £3 million a year. Even if the figure for malicious damages in Dublin was to be matched by an equal amount from the Exchequer that would help, although I would not like the leaders of youth clubs to hear about this suggestion. Perhaps it might help to increase the malicious damage. There may be some way in which malicious damage can be reduced. The big problem is not those in the youth clubs, but the young people who are not interested in such clubs. They are the "off-street" people.

The "unclubbables".

The people who will not join groups. They are the people who may create a lot of trouble. We have high density areas with no recreational facilities. Long ago much building was done and priority was given to houses. Today, when high density housing areas are created, amenities such as clubs are usually provided.

I would like to see more facilities for the children. The children's courts are rather dull. I would like to see them painted. This is probably not a function of the Minister for Education but the Department of Education are concerned with anything to do with the children. Perhaps this question could be examined with the Department of Justice.

Progress reported; Committee to sit again.