Written Answers. - Proposed Legislation.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

1000 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Education and Science the proposals for legislation being prepared under the auspices of his Department where heads have not yet been approved by the Government; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19598/00]

There are no such proposals for legislation being prepared by my Department at this time.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

1001 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Education and Science the proposals for legislation being prepared under the auspices of his Department where heads have been approved by the Government; the expected date of publication; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19613/00]

Only one such piece of legislation is being prepared by my Department at present. The purpose of the Bill, the drafting of which the Government approved on 26 July 1999, is to modernise a number of aspects of the existing legislation as it relates to the vocational education sector. Since the enactment of the Vocational Education Act, 1930, both the services provided by vocational education committees and the educational and regulatory environment in which they operate have undergone substantial change. Changes have also occurred which reflect the partnership approach in recent reforms in the Irish education system.

The drafting of the VEC Bill is at an advanced stage and I would hope to publish the Bill later this year.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

1002 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Education and Science the proposed statutory instruments being prepared in or under the auspices of his Department; the proposed effect of each; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19628/00]

My Department is currently in the process of implementing the Education Act, 1998. That Act provides for a general statutory framework for the administration of the education system at first and second level.

Many of the measures provided for in the Act will be implemented by means of statutory instruments. Among the key measures which are being considered at the moment are the establishment of a national appeals structure;procedures for the granting and withdrawal of recognition for first and second level schools; provision for first and second level students in recognised schools to access records relating to their education; and the establishment of students' councils at second level.
My Department also has responsibility for transposing two European Community directives at this time. These directives are EU Directive 2000/5/EC and EU Directive 1999/42/EC. Both directives are concerned with the general system for the recognition of qualifications. Both directives will be transposed by means of a statutory instrument. The Department is required to transpose Directive 2000/5/EEC by January 2001 and to transpose Directive 1999/42/EEC by July 2001.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

1003 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Education and Science the Acts or sections or other provisions of Acts under the auspices of his Department or for the commencement of which his Department is responsible which have not commenced by reason of the fact that a commencement order has not been made; if he has any plans to make such an order in each case; if so, when; the reason for the failure in each case to make such an order to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19643/00]

With regard to the Education Act 1998, two commencement orders have been made bringing into effect 51 sections of the Education Act. Seven sections remain to be commenced at this time. These deal with patrons of schools, section 8, determination of criteria for the recognition of schools, section 10, procedures for withdrawal of recognition, section 11, annual funding of schools, section 12, the keeping of accounts and records by schools, section 18, the procedure for appeals by parents and students against certain decisions of schools to the Secretary General of my Department, section 29, and the establishment of an educational disadvantage committee, section 32. These sections cannot be commenced until certain preparatory work for their implementation is completed. This work is now at an advanced stage. All sections of the Act will come into operation before the end of the year.

The Qualifications (Education and Training) Act, 1999, was enacted in July 1999. The main objects of the Act are: to establish and develop standards of knowledge, skill or competence; to promote the quality of further and higher education and training; provide a system for co-ordinating and comparing education and training awards and promote and maintain procedures for access, transfer and progression. Three new bodies will also be established under the Act: the National Qualifications Authority of Ireland and two awarding bodies, the Further Education and Training Awards Council and the Higher Education and Training Awards Council.
As a first step in the implementation of the Act, the setting up of the designate National Qualifications Authority of Ireland was announced earlier this year. The new authority is being set up on an interim basis pending its establishment on a statutory basis as provided for in the Act. The task of the designate authority will be to commence work on the establishment of a national framework of qualifications and to advise on and support the transition to the new certification system as provided for in the Act.
The Education (Welfare) Act, 2000, which was enacted in July of this year, provides a statutory framework to deal with the problems of school non-attendance, early school leaving and poor educational attainment among students. The Act also provides for a procedure for registration of children receiving education outside the recognised school system. It also provides for the establishment of a national educational welfare board and a nationwide education welfare service.
As a first step in the implementation of the Act, I have decided to establish a designate board on a non-statutory basis for an interim period to engage in initial planning and preparatory work. Following this interim period, the board will be put on a statutory footing and the various provisions of the Act will be commenced as appropriate letters seeking nominations to this interim board were issued by my Department in early September to the various parties mentioned in the Schedule of the Act. I will make appointments to the board as soon as I receive all these nominations. It is envisaged that the membership of the interim board will, as far as possible, mirror that of the statutory board.