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Dáil Éireann debate -
Wednesday, 14 Jun 2000

Vol. 521 No. 2

Written Answers. - Literary Levels.

Austin Currie

Question:

163 Mr. Currie asked the Minister for Education and Science if he will provide details of the memorandum of understanding recently signed by the US Secretary of Education and the Minister to develop joint plans to tackle poor literacy levels, improve classroom teaching and encourage exchanges between the two countries by principals and students including a young leaders scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16782/00]

Following my meeting with US Secretary of Education Richard Riley on 1 June 2000 and a series of intensive discussions between Irish and US officials, we signed an historic memorandum of understanding to underpin and facilitate educational co-operation between the two administrations.

The memorandum of understanding builds on existing co-operation at a variety of levels and identifies new areas for joint activities. It encompasses learners at all levels.

Areas of co-operation will include special education, civic education, technology and distance learning, and disadvantage.

There will be a special focus on co-operation aimed at improving literacy, vocational-technical education, adult education, post-secondary education including higher education and educational exchanges.

My Department will also fund a teacher exchange initiative involving placements for ten teachers. This funding will give teachers the opportunity to work for four weeks in the United States, in innovative educational establishments, including establishments operating in the area of special needs. Provision for the involvement of two parents in this initiative is also envisaged.

It is also intended to fund, on a three-year basis, a Young Leaders Programme at a cost of £65,000 per annum. This programme aims to bring Irish third level students to the United States for a two months summer internship in Government offices and private organisations. The students will participate with student colleagues from Northern Ireland in joint activities with a particular focus on helping them to become leaders in their own communities.

A copy of the memorandum of understanding follows for your information.

Understanding on Education between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of Ireland

The Government of the United States of America and the Government of Ireland, herein after referred to as the Participants;

Desiring to promote better understanding between the peoples of the United States of America and Ireland, to strengthen the relationships between the two countries through edu cation, and to improve the education systems of each country;
Believing that the expansion of mutually beneficial co-operation and exchanges facilitates the achievement of these aims, and
Desiring to strengthen the links already existing between the educational communities in both countries,
Have reached the following understandings:
Article 1: General Principles
The Participants intend to enhance and expand co-operative efforts in education according to the following general principles:
A. The Participants plan to encourage and develop co-operation and exchanges in the field of education on the basis of equality, mutual benefit, and reciprocity.
B. Such exchanges and co-operation are subject to the constitutional and applicable laws and regulations of the respective countries, and to the availability of funds. Within this framework, the Participants intend to make every effort to promote favourable conditions for the fulfilment of this co-operation and these exchanges.
C. The co-operation contemplated in this Understanding is not intended to affect relations currently established between state educational agencies, institutions, or school systems of the Participants. Rather, the Participants intend to identify new areas for joint activities, or, where deemed appropriate by all concerned, to strengthen or expand existing programs.
D. The Participants understand the term "education", for the purposes of this Understanding, to include education for all students, including those with any type of disability, as well as rehabilitative and vocational-technical services for children, youth and adults.
Article II: Methods of Co-operation
A. In carrying out the general principles of this Understanding, the Participants intend to:
1. Encourage and facilitate closer relationships between state educational agencies and offices, schools and school systems, post-secondary institutions, appropriate educational organizations, and other educational entities in the two countries, with special emphasis on civic education initiatives that support cross-border and cross-community learning experiences; education for children and young people with disabilities; rehabilitation, technology and distance learning; helping disadvantaged children with a special focus on improving literacy;vocational-technical education; adult education; post-secondary education, including in higher education; and educational exchanges, and
2. Encourage mutually beneficial educational activities involving researchers, scholars, faculty members, teachers, educational administrators, and other specialists to lecture, teach, conduct research, and develop co-operative programs.
B. The Participants intend to emphasize:
1. Co-operation that facilitates exchanges and dialogue centered on educational management, methods, evaluation and research particularly in the areas specified in paragraph A 1.
2. In support of other bilateral initiatives and programs, the study and teaching of each other's culture and history through the development of exchanges and co-operation as described above and through other mutually decided upon measures.
Article III: Organization and Co-operation
A. The executive agency for fulfilling the Understanding for the United States of America is the Department of Education, in consultation with the Department of State. The executive agency for fulfilling the Understanding for the Government of Ireland is the Department of Education and Science, in consultation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
B. The representatives of the Participants expect to meet periodically to review the implementation of co-operation and exchanges and to develop specific programs of mutual benefit. At these meetings, which may include representatives of other interested organizations as appropriate, they also intend to exchange views on the state of educational co-operation between the two countries. The preparation for such meetings, their timing and their agendas, should be established through diplomatic channels.
Article IV: Method of Implementation
A. Specific activities to be undertaken under this Understanding which have been decided upon by both executive agencies are included in the Annex and should commence during the school year 2000-2001.
B. Additional annexes may provide for new activities as mutually decided by the executive agencies.
Article V: Financing
Unless otherwise decided, each executive agency shall bear the costs of its participation.
Article VI: Term of Understanding
Activities under this Understanding commence June 1, 2000, and continue until December 31, 2002. The understanding may be extended for successive two year periods unless one party notifies the other of the termination thereof no later than June 30, 2002, or not less than six months prior to the expiration of any such two year period.
DONE at in duplicate,
this day of , 2000.
FOR THE GOVERNMENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA:
Richard W. Riley
U.S. Secretary of Education
FOR THE GOVERNMENT OF IRELAND:
Dr. Michael Woods, T.D.
Minister for Education and Science
ANNEX
ACTIVITIES TO BE UNDERTAKEN IN 2000-2002 UNDER UNDERSTANDING ON EDUCATION BETWEEN THE GOVERNMENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA AND THE GOVERNMENT OF IRELAND
In the implementation of the understanding, the participants intend to focus on the following activities for the period June 1, 2000 through December 31, 2002. For all such activities, the participants intend to encourage, to the fullest extent possible, the participation of students, teachers, administrators, and other educational personnel from Northern Ireland.
In carrying out these activities, the Participants note that both governments have, through parallel action, dedicated financial and other resources to programs or projects that should further the purposes of the understanding.
1. The Participants intend to explore ways of building on the current joint efforts of the United States and Ireland to support Civic Link, an action-learning and exchange initiative. The initiative supports cross-border and cross-community learning experiences for children in Ireland and Northern Ireland, as well as other cross-border and cross-community educational activities.
2. The Participants intend to explore the possibilities of co-operation, information sharing, and research relating to education of children and young people with disabilities and rehabilitation, including the establishment of a comprehensive program of co-operation relating to areas such as policy development, dyslexia, autism, inclusion, and technology.
3. The Participants intend to explore collaborative efforts regarding the effective use of technology resources to improve learning in schools and other settings.
4. The Participants intend to explore the possibilities of developing a joint project related to the theme of literacy in disadvantaged schools, particularly in relation to schools in high poverty areas that succeed in meeting academic achievement goals.
5. The Participants intend to explore the possibilities of co-operation and joint learning in the use of television as a medium in literacy tuition or instruction (building on the experience of Crossroads Café and the expertise of the United States in the use of popular media).
6. The Participants intend to explore the possibilities of implementing an exchange of secondary school principals between the two countries during the period covered by this Annex. The Participants intend that the focus of this activity should be on personnel involved in helping schools develop policies to retain students in school.
7. The Participants intend to continue to co-operate in the carrying out of a project known as the Young Leaders Program that would bring Irish students from third level colleges to the United States for summer internships in public agencies and non-governmental organizations.
8. The Participants intend to explore areas for continued co-operation at all levels of post-secondary education, including matters relating to access and student mobility.
9. The Participants intend to explore the possibilities of co-operation in carrying out a project in the area of arts and education.
10. The Participants intend to explore joint research in rehabilitation engineering designed to advance the development of assistive technologies for students with disabilities, with a particular focus on technologies to help make successful school-to-work transitions.
11. The Participants intend to continue to build support for activities growing out of the Education: The Challenges to 2020 Conference to be held on May 31, 2000, with a special emphasis on creating partnerships between education and business.
The Participants may determine to carry out other activities during the period of this Annex, such determinations to be made through an exchange of letters.
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