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Seanad Éireann debate -
Wednesday, 20 Jun 1973

Vol. 75 No. 2

National School Teachers' Superannuation (Amendment) Scheme, 1972: Motion.

I move:

That the National School Teachers' Superannuation (Amendment) Scheme, 1972, prepared by the Minister for Education with the consent of the Minister for Finance under the Teachers' Superannuation Act, 1928, and laid before the House on the 27th July, 1972, be confirmed.

The main provisions of this amending scheme are, briefly:

1. The national teachers' pension scheme will be a contributory scheme (paragraph 7);

2. The establishment of reciprocity of pensionable service as between the national teachers' and secondary teachers' pension schemes (paragraphs 9 and 10);

3. National teachers who, in the past, had given service in preparatory colleges may have that service reckoned for pension purposes (paragraph 9);

4. A national teacher who had certain service in the Irish Folklore Commission and who had been allowed to have half of that service reckoned for pension may now have it reckoned in full (paragraph 23);

5. The national teachers' strike in 1969 will not interrupt pensionable service (paragraph 24).

The national teachers' pension scheme has been a non-contributory scheme since 1934, a circumstance which was taken into account when the salary scales for these teachers were being drawn up or adjusted from time to time. On the other hand, the pension schemes for post-primary teachers were—and are—on a contributory basis at the rate of 5 per cent of the teacher's pensionable rate of pay and this circumstance, too, was adverted to in the drawing up or adjustment of salary scales for post-primary teachers. The introduction of a common basic scale of salary for teachers generally as from 1st July, 1968, demanded that these discrepancies in regard to pension conditions be rationalised and, so, the superannuation of national teachers was established on a contributory basis with effect as from 1st July, 1968. Paragraph 7 of this amending scheme will give statutory effect to this situation.

In preparing this amendment I felt it was only right to have regard to those national teachers who had to retire, either because they had reached the statutory age limit or because of disability, at the end of the school year which ended on 30th June, 1968 —that is, one day before the introduction of the improved pay structure for teachers. Accordingly I have provided in paragraph 8 of the scheme now before the House that these teachers will, in their pensions and lump sums, get the benefit of the improved salary structures. Post-primary teachers who had to retire at the end of the corresponding post-primary school year—31st July, 1968, for secondary schools and 31st August, 1968, for vocational schools—had their superannuation awards based on the improved rates.

At present the secondary teachers' pension scheme allows for the reckoning of national teacher service for superannuation purposes. There is not however a similar reciprocal provision in the national teachers' scheme for a pensionable secondary teacher who transfers to national teaching. Paragraph 9 of this amending scheme will rectify that anomaly, and teachers who have retired since 1st October, 1956, inclusive, will have the opportunity of availing of this provision where applicable and have their pensions revised from the date of retirement.

A small number of national teachers had, in the past, given service in the preparatory colleges but through lack of suitable provision could not receive pensionable credit for that service. I propose, in this paragraph 9, also, to give any such national teacher, including those who may have retired since 1st October, 1956, the opportunity of recovering the pensionable value of preparatory college service which ceased before 5th January, 1957; and where the opportunity is availed of, I propose to have pensions which have already been granted to these teachers revised with effect from the date of retirement.

It is my intention to have, eventually, pension reciprocity generally for the teaching services in order that there may be greater mobility within the teaching profession. Unfortunately, there are difficulties—not the least being the necessity for amending legislation—in the way of including vocational teachers in reciprocity arrangements. These teachers are employed by local authorities and their pensions are provided for under the Local Government (Superannuation) Act, 1956. My Department is at present tackling this problem in collaboration with Departments of Local Government and Finance, but it will be a little time yet before the necessary proposals can be brought before the House. In the meantime I thought it best to establish what reciprocity could be speedily achieved.

An amendment to the national teachers' pension scheme in 1967 allowed a teacher who had at least three years whole-time service in the Irish Folklore Commission prior to 5th November, 1951 to reckon half of that service for pension. As the number of teachers involved is insignificant, and having regard to the nature of the work of the former Irish Folklore Commission I consider that a more liberal approach is warranted. I have therefore provided—in paragraph 23—that such service may be given full pensionable credit.

I believe that this amending superannuation scheme will be generally welcome by teachers and I am satisfied that its provisions are just and reasonable. I have no hesitation, therefore, in recommending to the House that it be accepted.

This motion is welcome and supported by Fianna Fáil in the Seanad. It introduces, and rightly so, reciprocity for pension purposes between the secondary and national teaching professions. I welcome, in particular, what the Minister has stated in regard to his proposal to extend this—which, of course, will require amending legislation—to vocational teachers. This reciprocity for pension purposes—there are other matters contained in the motion but I will confine myself to this reciprocity principle—is highly desirable in order to influence greater impetus towards complete mobility within the teaching profession.

When I was Minister for Education I was very interested in this development as I feel it is highly desirable from many points of view. From a practical and financial point of view it is highly desirable to have total uniformity in regard to salaries and pensions. From a teaching point of view it should be acknowledged that education is a whole in itself and should be viewed, philosophically and factually, as one corpus in which the profession of teaching is regarded as of importance and of equal importance whether it is at primary level, second level or third level.

In time I would like to see this idea extended into third level education. I would like to see total mobility, not just between primary, vocational and secondary teachers but right into third level institutions such as our technological colleges and universities. This conception of education is the one that has the greatest validity. The traditional differences and barriers have up to now impeded its development and I welcome this reciprocity in regard to pensions between secondary and primary teachers as a step in that direction. I welcome also the Minister's intention of extending it to vocational teachers.

I would like—and I am sure this would be the Minister's wish also—to see it extended generally so as to achieve not just mobility in regard to pensions but complete mobility in regard to teachers generally, be they teachers of young children in primary schools or teachers at the highest level of the educational system. The question of educating people, educare in Latin, leading people on, is one that is very basic and very fundamental. I would certainly welcome basic teaching qualifications for teachers in all the institutes of third level education, including universities. In certain instances, heretofore, we have not concentrated sufficiently on the basic elements of teaching in regard to lectures. However, great the particular knowledge or specialisation at third level education, if the teacher has not got basic training in education, which should be applicable right across the board to all teachers at whatever level of education is applied, the whole system of education will continue to be faulty. I welcome the Minister's proposal.

Fáiltím roimh an Aire Oideachais. Aontaím leis an rud atá san mBille. Bhí géar-gá leis leis na blianta. Mar is léir ón meamram mínithe, cuireadh na tairiscintí seo os comhair an Tí i 1972 agus táimid chun glacadh leo anois. Sílim go bhfuil múinteoirí na tíre lán-sásta go bhfuil an obair seo á dhéanamh againn. Bhí saol an-chruaidh ag na daoine seo. D'oibrigh siad ar son na hÉireann. Is maith an rud go bhfuil pinsean á thúirt.

I welcome this proposal. It is very essential and very important. It was already prepared in July, 1972, and so far as I know the Irish National Teachers' Organisation have been campaigning for it for years. Many of their members, and other teachers in the past, have taught for many years under deplorable conditions. When they came to retire many of them, because they had worked in the Folklore Commission or because they were unable to secure positions when they came out of training, were unable to get pensions. It is very gratifying that this has been rectified. It will be most encouraging to the teaching profession in general. We would all like to see a unified profession. It has been suggested that there will be mobility between teachers so that they can move from one level to another without any loss of pension rights or salary.

I welcome this motion and I am sure it will meet the wishes of teachers.

I wish to thank Senator Lenihan for accepting this motion. I can assure him that total mobility in education for pension purposes is receiving active attention. I might add that it is being prepared for the total public service so that there will be mobility between the teachers and the public service, which is badly needed.

Ba mhaith liom anois mo bhuiochais a gabháil leis an Seanadóir Ó Doláin as ucht na deighmhéinn a thaispeán sé dom agus aontáim leis gur mithid é seo a chur isteach.

Question put and agreed to.