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Departmental Programmes

Dáil Éireann Debate, Tuesday - 14 December 2021

Tuesday, 14 December 2021

Questions (402)

Neale Richmond

Question:

402. Deputy Neale Richmond asked the Minister for Education the supports that are provided by her Department to encourage exchanges between Irish secondary schools or students and continental colleges; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [61460/21]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The main instrument to promote exchanges between Irish and other EU schools is the Erasmus+ programme which supports schools that want to organise learning mobility activities for school pupils and staff. In 2020, over €7m in EU Erasmus +funding was provided as support for both primary and secondary schools in Ireland.

Mobility activities provide learning opportunities to individuals and support internationalisation and institutional development of schools. School staff can undertake activities such as Job-shadowing, Training Courses and Teaching Assignments whilst the Learner mobility option enables pupils to spend periods abroad to study at a partner school.

Léargas as the National Agency for Erasmus+ programme in the school sector provide a suite of supports to applicants and participants such as information sessions and a Public Relations (PR) kit for teachers. In addition Léargas manages support initiatives for schools such as eTwinning. This is a free secure online platform linking a community of more than one million teachers across Europe and supports teachers to find partners and work on joint projects in any curricular area. To-date, a total of 1,890 eTwinning projects have been registered with Irish teachers involving countries from the forty-four participating countries in Europe and beyond. Approximately 1,100 of those projects involved secondary schools.

However, the acquisition of European language competency by students plays a key part in the success of such mobilities and exchanges. The Deputy will be aware that Languages Connect is Ireland’s Strategy for Foreign Languages in Education which aims to increase and diversify the range of languages taught and learned. The Department of Education, through Post Primary Languages Ireland (PPLI) provides funding for the School Exchanges Scheme. Under the Scheme, up to twenty schools annually have been provided with €15,000 in funding over a three year period. The funding can be used towards exchange costs such as flights, to offer scholarships to students who would not otherwise be able to participate, or for other needs that the school identifies as contributing towards language learning on the exchange.

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