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Monday, January 22, 2007
TRAINEE teachers have appealed to the Government to reimburse them the €90 a week they are forced to pay, out of their own pockets, for class materials and travel expenses during their teaching practice.
Figures compiled by the students’ union at the country’s biggest teacher training college show that students are paying an average of €350 out of their own pockets for each work placement in a school during the normal three-year Bachelor of Education degree course. This works out at an average of €87.61 for each of the 16 weeks spent by students of St Patrick’s College in Dublin on teaching practice, or over €1,400 over the full course. The money covers photocopying and laminating, providing classroom resources such as posters, markers, paints, folders and worksheets and, in some cases, travel to and from school.
St Patrick’s Student Union president Shaun Conaghan said the situation would not be tolerated by other professions. "It would be like a nurse having to bring medicine and bandages to work or a trainee garda bring their own handcuffs to work every morning."
More than two-thirds of student teachers surveyed at St Patrick’s College and Mary Immaculate College of Education in Limerick felt they are being forced to take on part-time work as a result to make ends meet.
In a proposal to Education Minister Mary Hanafin, the students have called for a subsidy of €87.48 a week for each student during their teaching practice and estimate this would cost just over €2 million a year for the 4,000 teacher training colleges students.
The Irish National Teachers’ Organisation (INTO) is supporting the student campaign for financial assistance.
The union’s general secretary John Carr said it is understandable many students believe they are likely to be partly assessed on their financial resources as much as their teaching ability.
Education Minister Mary Hanafin discussed the issue at a meeting with the Union of Students in Ireland before Christmas. However, a Department of Education spokesperson said no plans are being made for a scheme to cover costs associated with teaching practice incurred by trainee teachers.
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