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Dáil Éireann debate -
Tuesday, 26 Apr 2005

Vol. 601 No. 2

Priority Questions.

Schools Building Projects.

Olwyn Enright


51 Ms Enright asked the Minister for Education and Science the financial support given by her Department to fee-paying schools for building and refurbishment works; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13329/05]

The Government has invested in the largest school building programme in the history of the State. Between 1998 and the end of 2004, almost €2 billion was invested in school buildings and approximately 7,500 large and small projects were completed in schools, including 130 new schools and 510 large-scale refurbishments and extensions. Funding for school building and renovation projects has increased fivefold since 1997. In 2005, €493 million will be spent on school building projects compared with just €92 million in 1997.

Of the €2 billion that has been invested in school buildings since 1999, only €14.5 million, or 0.7%, was provided to fee-charging second level schools for building and refurbishment works. Last year just over €970,000 in capital funding was given to fee-paying schools. This represents 0.29% of total expenditure on school buildings in 2004.

Almost 1,200 schools will benefit from the announcements that I have made so far this year with regard to the school buildings and modernisation programme. The list of projects approved to date includes a total allocation of €493 million, with €270 million for primary and €223 million for post-primary schools. The breakdown of projects is as follows: 122 large-scale projects to tender and construction over the next 12 to 15 months, 97 projects under the small schools initiative, 75 projects under the permanent accommodation initiative, 140 prefabs, 43 projects authorised to enter design phase, 590 summer works projects and 124 projects approved for progress through architectural planning. A total of 1,191 schools will benefit from this year's announcements.

Only ten of the building projects funded by my Department this year are in fee-charging schools. Schools building projects, whether for fee-charging schools or schools in the free education scheme, are selected for inclusion in the schools' building and modernisation programme on the basis of priority of need using published criteria.

Conveniently, the Minister's statistics did not tell us the percentage of this year's programme it is proposed to spend in fee paying schools. When did the policy change for both the Government and her own party? Does the Minister recall that her predecessor was considering the abolition of the payment of teachers' salaries in fee paying schools? Fine Gael certainly would not countenance such a measure but the Minister has been questioned on this issue previously in the House. Can the Minister recall her predecessor stating that the building programme would be "up the creek" if fee paying schools were to be included? It appears they are now being included to a significant degree. In light of this, will such schools take all children from a relevant catchment area regardless of their capacity to pay fees or not?

There has been no change in the policy of supporting fee paying schools. Since the foundation of the State all parties and all Governments have supported such schools, largely to protect choice and the ethos of minorities. The change of policy in Fine Gael surprises me. Despite the operation of the same policy for 80 years, Fine Gael has now decided that schools should not receive moneys for day-to-day expenses or refurbishment and building costs if they charge fees.

That is not accurate.

Basically, this will penalise the Church of Ireland ethos, the Presbyterian ethos and the Jewish ethos, as these are the only schools in the country who receive funds for capitation and day-to-day expenses. This is a major change of policy on Fine Gael's part. However, there has been no change of policy in Fianna Fáil or the Government. We continue to pay the teachers of the fee paying second level schools, irrespective of religious ethos. The Church of Ireland schools have traditionally received 100% grants for their capital programmes and continue to do so. Successive Governments, including Governments led by Deputy Enright's party, have done so and this has not changed.

As far as Catholic fee paying schools are concerned, traditionally approximately 50% has been given depending on the available funds. In or around 1999, the former Minister for Education and Science, Deputy Martin, came close to signing off on such an arrangement, but it has not always been possible to do so depending on the amount of money available. However, the policy of funding the capital programmes for fee paying schools has been in place since the foundation of the State. It is Fine Gael policy which has changed, which is a serious and retrograde step for the minority religions.

In the announcement made by the Minister last week, the bulk of the money did not go to schools for minority religions. She should admit that point. There has been no change in Fine Gael policy. The Minister is in this House at Question Time to answer for Government policy but has avoided the questions I asked her. I want to clarify that there has been no change in Fine Gael policy. We have always supported the payment of teachers. I have asked the Minister where exactly she and the Government stand on that question because previously there certainly was talk of removing it. I ask again whether these schools are prepared to take all children from the catchment areas. The Minister stated something to the effect that there appears to be plenty of money available. How can the Minister explain that to the hundreds of schools which are still on the building programme with no end in sight and which do not have the capacity to generate an income by charging the parents of their students?

There will be no change in the policy of paying teachers' salaries in fee paying schools at second level. Those teachers would have to be paid, irrespective of which school those children attended.

I agree with that.

There is no change in policy in that regard. Only ten of the almost 1,200 school projects which are being funded for building this year are for fee paying schools. A number of them are for Protestant schools which receive 100% grants anyway. The announcement made last week did not concern schools that will be going to tender or construction this week. It only concerned those moving forward to the architectural planning stage. Consequently, the amount of expenditure on them this year will be very small because it will only be for fees. We have not changed. However, the Fine Gael Party should explain its position to the minority religions.

There is no issue. As to the catchment area——

The Deputy should note that more than six minutes have already been spent on this question.

Each school and each board of management is responsible for its own enrolment policy, as the Deputy is well aware.

The Minister is responsible for overall policy.

School Staffing.

Jan O'Sullivan


52 Ms O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Education and Science if her attention has been drawn to the decreasing number of males entering the teacher profession at all levels; the steps she intends to take to ensure a better gender balance in the teaching profession; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13161/05]

I am aware of the decreasing number of males entering the teaching profession and I know that the situation is particularly acute at primary level. The relatively low number of males in the teaching force is a feature common to all OECD countries. OECD statistics show the situation in Ireland to be close to the OECD average. It is important to attract more men into teaching for a number of reasons, not least of which is the positive role models teachers provide in children's lives and the desirability of having both male and female role models in our schools.

Teaching should be seen as an attractive profession for the best candidates of both genders. It is fulfilling work which makes a significant social contribution. With the increases in teachers' salaries under partnership agreements and benchmarking in recent years, it is also now a well paid job. The average salary for a teacher is now €50,000 per annum, an increase of approximately 43% on the 1997 figure. This compares very favourably with an average industrial wage of about €29,000 per annum. The pension and holiday entitlements of teachers also heighten the attractiveness of the profession. Teachers are deservedly held in very high regard in this country.

This Government wants to attract and reward the best teachers. In addition to increasing teachers' salaries, we have also undertaken other initiatives to enhance the status of the profession. Not least of these is the establishment of the Teaching Council as a professional regulatory body.

I know however, that a particular focused effort must be made to encourage more men to become teachers, particularly at primary level. A report on attracting more men into primary teaching is being compiled by a committee comprised of representatives of the colleges of education, the Institute of Guidance Counsellors, the INTO and officials of my Department.

The main objective of this committee is to make recommendations on strategies and initiatives to increase the number of males entering primary teaching. It is expected that the committee will make recommendations in respect of both short-term and long-term strategies. The work of the committee is almost complete and I understand I can expect to receive its report within a few weeks. In examining the recommendations of the committee, my Department will also have regard to elements of the report which would assist in the examination of this issue at second level.

I welcome that this report is due shortly. Will the Minister publish it when it becomes available? On the OECD figures, the average is 20% whereas in the figures available here, only 10% of students in teacher training colleges are now male. At second level, only 15% of new ASTI members are male, so I suggest the trend is also progressive at second level. Does the Minister agree that this needs to be addressed, especially if it is a progressive trend? If the imbalance were the other way around, we would feel the need to address it. We should address the issue of males in teaching. Does the Minister intend to examine the effect of the leaving certificate curriculum on how boys perform and does she propose changing it? Does the Minister intend to look at the teaching of Irish and the fact that the need for honours level Irish to get into primary teaching is a possible obstacle for men in teaching? Moreover, does the Minister have figures for postgraduate courses and if men feature more predominantly in them?

I am not sure if there is any connection between boys doing honours Irish for the leaving certificate and their subsequent entry into the training colleges. It is useful to look at the numbers across both sectors, as Deputy O'Sullivan has done. For example, when the appointment of teachers at primary school last year is considered, 1,213 female teachers were appointed and only 144 male teachers. This represents a 9:1 ratio, which is of great concern. The situation is somewhat better at second level in the voluntary, secondary, community and comprehensive schools where 279 male teachers were appointed for the first time, which represents 29.1% of the total number of first-time appointees. This is genuinely a concern. However, various factors are involved in this trend, including personal choice, parental influence, career guidance, academic ability and the image of teaching as a career generally, particularly for men. The factors also include the image of the colleges of education, perhaps based on tradition rather than fact and perceptions regarding pay and conditions.

I look forward to receiving the report to see the recommendations. There are positive moves that could be taken, but one must be very careful about equality legislation to ensure one does not discriminate in favour of one group. I am conscious of the trend because of the need to have role models of both genders.

In light of boys' performance in the leaving certificate and the Minister's somewhat conservative approach to reforming the curriculum, would the Minister accept that the current method of examining the leaving certificate, which is mainly about memorisation, hinders boys' examination performance and their opportunities to enter teacher training colleges, which have quite high points?

Deputy O'Sullivan is quite mistaken in thinking I am opposed to changing the curriculum. The curriculum needs to be constantly updated and to respond to societal changes. We need to examine the entry-points rating of teacher training colleges in the context of the question. The entry points rating is not prohibitively high. The dearth of men in teacher training colleges has more to do with men not actively choosing teaching as a career. Recently, I met some young male teachers at the INTO conference and suggested to them that they should go out and promote the profession in secondary schools. The lack of status men afford to teaching has much to do with the dearth of men entering the profession. However, I will certainly take the report's recommendations on board.

Special Educational Needs.

Seán Crowe


53 Mr. Crowe asked the Minister for Education and Science if she will clarify her position regarding the education of the deaf community in view of comments made during a debate on 30 June 2004 which suggested that there were mutually exclusive arguments within the deaf community regarding education models; if her attention has been drawn to the fact that there are not such major disagreements within the community, but rather between service providers and the deaf community; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13426/05]

Seán Crowe


395 Mr. Crowe asked the Minister for Education and Science if her attention has been drawn to the anger and frustration at her decision to disband the advisory committee for the deaf and hard of hearing; the number of persons on the NCSE tasked with advising her Department on policy matters and who come from a deaf or hard of hearing background; the effort she made to ensure that the committee finalised its report; and if her attention has further been drawn to the two bodies of opinion shared by the committee; and if, in the absence of compromise, it was asked to produce a majority and minority report. [13427/05]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 53 and 395 together.

The advisory committee for the deaf and hard of hearing was established in December 2001. The committee held 38 meetings over a three-year period as well as a number of other meetings at subcommittee stage. However, from an early stage in the committee's deliberations it became apparent that there were entrenched, divergent views among representatives of deaf and hearing persons and their families on approaches to the teaching of the deaf and hard of hearing and that there was little willingness to reach consensus.

One group, which came from an oralist tradition, favoured a focus on teaching deaf and hard of hearing children to speak and to understand spoken language. The emphasis in the oralist approach is on the use of residual hearing and has been assisted by advances in audiology and technology. Another group strongly advocated sign language as the appropriate and exclusive means of communication. The opposing viewpoints of these groups made it very difficult for the committee to reach decisions. In some cases, decisions arrived at sub-committee stage were challenged at plenary level by members who were involved in the decisions of the sub-committee.

While various chapters of the committee's report were drafted, including chapters on early intervention, primary education, post-primary education, visiting teacher service and communication issues, no consensus was reached on any of these due to the divergent views of members of the committee. To progress matters, and as two previous deadlines which had been set for finalisation had not been met, my predecessor, Deputy Noel Dempsey, met the committee in June 2004. At that meeting, he stressed that its report should be completed by October 2004. This did not materialise. In the circumstances and following consultations between my officials and the chairperson of the committee, I formed the view that there was no prospect of the advisory committee reaching an agreed position in the foreseeable future. Given this position, I recently wrote to the chairperson of the committee and informed her of my decision to disband it. I have no plans to change that decision.

In disbanding the committee, however, I requested that all of the material produced by it to date be sent to my Department and this has been done. I now intend to discuss the very important issue of deaf education with the National Council for Special Education with a view to carrying out research initially and devising policy on issues relating to deaf and hard of hearing pupils.

I am disappointed that it was not possible for the committee to complete its work but the reality was that, over three years after its establishment, there was no prospect of its doing so. Rather than continue down the cul-de-sac that the committee's work had become, I have decided that a different approach is required and this approach includes involving the National Council for Special Education, which has a remit to advise my Department on policy matters.

I am confident the National Council for Special Education, which has a research function and part of whose remit is to advise my Department on policy matters, will be in a position, after undertaking appropriate research and analysis of this matter, to advise my Department on policy and other issues relating to the education of deaf and hard of hearing pupils.

I listened to the Minister's comments about the entrenched views on the committee. However, would she accept that there is anger and frustration among the deaf community at her arbitrary decision to disband the committee? Was the committee asked to produce a majority report and minority report? I am informed that there were too many professionals on the committee, as opposed to people from the deaf or hard of hearing community and that the difficulty arose from this preponderance of professionals. I accept that there were two groups with opposed views; one favouring the oral tradition and the other favouring sign language. Did the Minister attempt to get the two bodies of opinion on the committee to produce a majority report and a minority report in order for the committee to finalise its report? One can argue that enough time was given to the committee but the decision to disband it appeared to be arbitrary to many people. Has the Minister reached a decision with regard to Irish sign language? Will Irish sign language be promoted and supported or will the oral tradition be favoured?

After three years, it was evident the differences between the two groups on the committee were not only insurmountable but historical and deeply felt. At no stage was there any possibility of progress being made. Even if things were agreed at the subcommittee level, differences emerged once decisions were brought back to plenary level. There are two very fundamental differences between the two groups. One concerns the oral method and mainstream schools, while the other concerns Irish sign language. There was little point in leaving the two groups to work together when there was no prospect of agreement between them and they had not been able to come forward with reports. Producing majority and minority reports would not have helped because that would have solved none of the problems.

What is important now is that since the original establishment of the committee — which was very broadly based and represented parents, teachers and deaf and hard of hearing people — the National Council for Special Education has been established. The council has the expertise in special education and the ability to carry out research and drive policy. I hope it will be able to work with the groups. It is an issue in which I have long been interested. My decision to disband the committee was not an arbitrary one. It was based on the recognition that the two sides would never agree and that it was better to try and move the issue forward rather than leave in existence a committee that could not agree.

Irish Language.

Olwyn Enright


54 Ms Enright asked the Minister for Education and Science if a full assessment of the teaching of Irish in primary and secondary schools will take place; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13328/05]

The recent report of the Irish Language Commissioner highlighted the fact that despite appreciable time devoted to Irish in the school system, many students emerge from primary and post-primary education without achieving a reasonable command of the language. Particular concerns were raised about students' command of the spoken language.

While I accept that the standard of oral Irish in particular of many of our young people is not as it should be, it is important to note that the Department of Education and Science has made significant efforts in recent years to improve standards in the teaching and learning of Irish in our schools. The revised Irish language programme at primary level places a strong emphasis on oral Irish. This programme, implemented in all schools since September 2003, and supported by extensive in-service training by the primary curriculum support programme, should bring significant improvement to the standard of spoken Irish over time. This development at primary level complemented similar curricular changes at second level where syllabus reform is ongoing.

Significant improvements are being made in the provision of materials and resources for the teaching of Irish. An Chomhairle um Oideachas Gaeltachta agus Gaelscolaíochta has been established to progress this area and to provide support services for schools. Funding has been provided to an chomhairle to support this task and I know this is an area that will need further work. Marino Institute of Education now provides Irish courses at different levels for teachers and an enhanced range of supports for those studying for the scrúdú le h-aghaidh cailíochta sa ghaeilge has been put in place. My Department is currently engaged in a number of evaluation activities relating to the teaching and learning of Irish. Also, at the request of my Department, the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment is carrying out a review of languages in the post-primary curriculum, including Irish. I am confident those reports will both inform us of good practice within the system and point to areas requiring improvement.

The inspectorate of my Department, on foot of a major review of Irish language policies carried out in the Department last year, has recently prepared an internal report for policy discussion regarding areas where further improvements could be made. The Coimisinéir Teanga, along with other interest groups, contributed to that process. I have also recently met An Chomhairle um Oideachas Gaeltachta agus Gaelscolaíochta to discuss further improvements that could be made to support schools in improving the teaching and learning of Irish and to promote high quality education through the medium of Irish.

It is important to note that the issue of promoting the Irish language is not one that can be advanced by schools alone. Societal attitudes to the Irish language certainly impact on students' desires to learn it.

This Government has demonstrated a clear commitment to promoting our national language. It is hoped the continuing initiatives in education along with the increased emphasis on the use of Irish in the Official Languages Act will create a positive climate whereby students will realise the value of learning our native language in time and language competence will prosper as a consequence.

Does the Minister agree that societal attitudes can be coloured by the school experience of students in many cases? Does the Minister accept that Irish is not being taught in a relevant and applied way, particularly at second level, and that it does not reflect the modern needs of the language? Is the Minister aware of the situation of students learning off reams of passages for oral examinations without having a real understanding of the spoken language itself? Will the Minister carry out a comprehensive and impartial review of all aspects of Irish learning and teaching as recommended by the commission?

I will return to Deputy O'Sullivan's point. Three out of every ten leaving certificate students attempted the honours Irish paper in 2003 and only 30% of this number were young men. Does the Minister believe there is an impact on primary teaching in light of these statistics? Requiring an honours qualification lessens the numbers that can go into this field unlike the situation with English and mathematics. Has the Minister considered proposals being mooted in terms of changing the mandatory nature of the subject after leaving certificate level?

We need more men.

I have no plans to change the mandatory nature as it is important that people should learn their native language at all levels of the education system. On the matter of the overall environment, Institiúid Teangeolaíochta Éireann and other language groups have made it clear that the learning of a second language in school cannot flourish in the absence of environmental supports. As any Irish speaker knows, one loses the language once one leaves the realm of always using it. Significant progress has been made in the primary school curriculum. It is an enjoyable curriculum based on oral Irish and much emphasis is placed on the positive step of speaking and listening to the language.

The inspectorate is evaluating the teaching and learning of Irish at junior certificate level in the current academic year. The inspectorate is examining a cross-sample and I look forward to its findings because it is examining the curriculum, the timetabling and the whole school support system. Speaking as an iar-múinteoir Gaeilge, there should be more emphasis on oral Irish at second level, in particular approaching the leaving certificate examination, as it is too heavily weighted on literature rather than on the language itself considering we are encouraging people to go to the Gaeltacht. There are issues that can make a difference - having materials that people can use, such as the excellent material now available for junior classes for example. The finances going into this will ensure it is improved. Having téacs leabhar for the gaeilscoileanna is another important issue.

A teacher will teach Irish as a basic language that is a part of the school day and it is, therefore, important to have a proficiency. There is a sizable difference between the honours and pass Irish levels in the leaving certificate. I am not sure that someone with a pass Irish qualification would be competent to teach it as a major subject throughout primary school. I do not know whether this is affecting the male in-take but I will examine the issue.

The figures the Deputy has raised are quite interesting. Our inspectorate has examined the primary school and junior certificate curricula. The inspectorate examined 50 schools' reports in 2002 and stated that, while the teaching of Irish was good in approximately half the schools, there are concerns about the low levels of language confidence achieved by many second level pupils. There is also a concern that Irish is not being taught through Irish at this level, and this is affecting the way people learn it.

As everyone knows, I would like to keep talking about Irish.

Higher Education Grants.

Jan O'Sullivan


55 Ms O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Education and Science if she will give a breakdown, county by county, of the new awards of higher education grants under socio-economic categories for the 2001-2002 and subsequent academic year; if she is satisfied the allocation of grants is fair and representative of the geographic and socio-economic breakdown of the country; the action she intends to take to broaden access to third level grants; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13162/05]

The most recent data on participation rates at third level is that published in the HEA review of higher education participation in 2003, which showed that participation in higher education among the school leaver age cohort has passed the 50% mark for the first time. The study puts the overall transfer rate to higher education in 2003 at 54%, as opposed to 44% in 1998, 36% in 1992, 25% in 1986 and 20% in 1980. This data is based on a full census of entrants.

The study also contains findings based on a sample of new entrants relating to their socio-economic breakdown in that year. It should be noted that previous studies on participation by socio-economic groups, the Clancy reports, conducted in regard to 1998, 1992, 1986 and 1982 were based on a census of new entrants in these years. A follow up to previous Clancy studies based on a census of entrants in 2004 is under way and will provide a full picture of progress in higher education participation by socio-economic grouping since 1998.

Final analysis and comparison with previous Clancy studies, together with any policy conclusions, should await the outcome of the full survey that will be available later this year. The current study provides some interesting pointers nonetheless, suggesting that participation rates of some of the lower socio-economic groups have increased substantially, in among particular skilled, semi-skilled and unskilled manual and other non-manual workers.

On the issue of the number of students in receipt of financial assistance under the student support schemes, the most recent figures show that 11,500 benefited from top up grants as well as the basic maintenance grant. This Government introduced the top up grant to provide greater assistance to the most disadvantaged students. We should note that the maximum amount of grant support available this year, inclusive of the top grant, is €4,855 compared to €2,032 in 1996-97.

In so far as data on the socio-economic backgrounds of grantholders is concerned, my Department has collected a limited amount in the past with specific reference to the higher education grants scheme. For this reason, the level of data the Deputy requested is not yet available for each of the schemes. Looking to the future, the HEA has been working with the universities and institutes of technology to develop an electronic student record system at the request of my Department. This is intended to provide more detailed information on students, including their socio-economic backgrounds. I have asked the HEA to examine how this might provide more timely and reliable data on the socio-economic backgrounds of grantholders.

Additional information not given on the floor of the House.

On the matter of the system for allocating higher education grants, the Deputy will be aware that I propose to introduce a single unified scheme of maintenance grants for students in higher education for the academic year 2006-07 in accordance with the commitment in An Agreed Programme for Government. In this context, I intend to put in place a more coherent administration system as early as possible that will facilitate consistency of application and improved client accessibility. This is necessary if we are to ensure public confidence in the awards system and the timely delivery of grants to those who most need them.

Whatever new arrangements are eventually decided upon will be provided for in the new statutory arrangements through a student support Bill. This Bill, which will provide a statutory underpinning for the schemes, will have the promotion of equality of access as a key objective. I envisage that the Bill will also provide for an independent appeals system. The timeframe for the introduction of this Bill is contingent on the range of issues that are the subject of ongoing consultations.

Another significant development in the area of access to third level education was the launch of the national action plan in December 2004 prepared by the National Office for Equity of Access to Higher Education with the assistance of an advisory committee from the education and social partners. A key objective of the plan is the development of the most effective means of increasing the access and participation of learners from disadvantaged schools and communities in higher education. My Department is in consultation with the universities and institutes of technology about their proposals for alternative entry and retention processes to improve access opportunities for students from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds.

The Minister's answer was interesting but did not address my question. I asked about students who received grants for the year 2001-02. Is it a failure of the Minister's Department that the most recent statistics on grants and socio-economic breakdown are for the year 2000-01? These figures have been out since 2004 but there are three subsequent academic years for which we do not have figures. When does the Minister expect the information on 2001-02 to become available?

Does the Minister feel there is a need to overhaul the system? This is the intention of the student support Bill, which I am to understand will not be introduced for some time. Figures show that twice as many students from farming, professional, managerial and self-employed backgrounds received grants than students from lower socio-economic groups in 2000-01. We were promised a centralisation of this system. I propose that we have not received this because there is a dispute between the Minister's Department and the Department of Social and Family Affairs in terms of assessing students' families for these grants. When can we have more up to date information on who gets grants from the Minister's Department?

I understand the number of people in receipt of third level grants and benefiting under the schemes is 56,000. The amount of money involved in this has increased substantially. The HEA and my Department are working on a comprehensive computerised student records system that will not only deal with the numbers of people but their social profiles and the educational courses they are following. This will ensure we receive up to date information more quickly. We are still pursuing a number of returns for the period prior to 2002-03 from the various granting authorities. A central system would undoubtedly make it much easier and I accept what the Deputy said in that regard.

In regard to a new system, we all accept there is a need for a one-stop-shop, or at least one body, which would be responsible for distributing grants. Two issues arose in the context of the new legislation. One was a new scheme because there are talks about taking capital into account, and the other was a single body which would be responsible for the administration. The former is the more difficult issue and we discussed that before. I would not like to delay a proper administrative structure by waiting for the outcome of studies on the capital issue. There is no particular disagreement between any bodies; it is just that we do not have agreement yet.

That is one definition of no agreement. Does the Minister accept the system is unfair to the PAYE sector?

When one looks at the profile, one finds the rate of participation among people in working class, or even middle class, Dublin in the grant schemes is not as great as that in rural areas. As I said before, the widow in the large house in Dún Laoghaire who has no money——

Far be it that the widow from Dún Laoghaire should suffer.

The capital value of her home might be considerable but one cannot expect her to sell her house to send her child to college. These issues must be balanced against the farmer with a lot of land. It is an issue we must examine carefully. I am more anxious to move ahead to find a system which would streamline the administration of the grant system in a fair way because it is being dealt with by four or five different bodies.