Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Dáil Éireann díospóireacht -
Wednesday, 17 May 1989

Vol. 390 No. 2

Ceisteanna-Questions. Oral Answers. - Adult Education Officer Vacancies.


asked the Minister for Education when it is proposed to fill outstanding adult education officer vacancies in the vocational education committees.

I am pleased to have been able to fill vacancies in County Meath and County Louth recently, in exceptional circumstances. It is not possible in the context of Government policy on public service staffing to fill the remaining vacancies at present.

Would the Minister agree that there are only five vacancies outstanding and four of them are in Munster — two in County Cork, one in County Kerry and one in Waterford? Would the Minister accept that because of the failure to fill these vacancies adult education programmes and adult literacy programmes, especially, in these areas will go to the wall? There is no officer with specific responsibility to organise those courses and make sure that they are put in place. Would the Minister accept that what we are talking about is merely a matter of petty cash in relation to the overall Education budget, but it is an investment which makes an enormous difference, especially to those in need of adult literacy courses? Would she please have another look at this matter?

Everybody claims matters as petty cash. There are four vacancies, not five. There is one in County Waterford, one in County Donegal and two in County Cork.

And Kerry?

There are four vacancies at present. I do not accept the Deputy's assertion that adult education, and particularly adult literacy, will go to the wall if these vacancies are not filled. We have been careful to leave no county unattended in that matter. One other post has been filled in County Waterford and one in County Donegal and there are two other posts filled in the Deputy's own county.

Would the Minister accept that the literacy programmes in County Cork, in particular, are suffering severely because of the lack of two adult education organisers in that very big county? I understand it is the biggest county in Ireland.

The question is becoming partisan. I accept that County Cork is the biggest county in Ireland. There is nothing I can do about that. It is a fact. I do not accept that the work of the two very fine adult education advisers in that county is nor very worthwhile and indeed, very fruitful and having great effect. I think they would wish me to put on the record my appreciation of the work they are doing.

Would the Minister accept that her Department regard adult education as being something of a Cinderella, that less than one-sixth of 1 per cent of the Education budget is allocated to adult education? Given that her Department are not involved in any significant way as a provider of adult education, would she accept that it exists only where there are people to facilitate her? If we had not adult education organisers, nothing would happen. In those circumstances, will she not make a case to her constituency colleague to regard these as very special vacancies that should be filled?

I would regret very much if a county were left without an adult education adviser, but that is not the position. Our reason for obtaining particular sanction in the cases of County Louth and County Meath is that if those vacancies had remained unfilled those two counties would have been left without any adult education organisers. That remains the position. Of course, we will always keep the matter under review. Again, I reject the assertion that anybody in my Department is a Cinderella.

There is only one— one-sixth of 1 per cent of the budget——

Is there anybody saying anything else?

They would not be allowed.