A TEACHER has told of the outrage she felt when she turned up for school the morning after Finance Minister Michael Noonan delivered the budget to learn her job was to be axed with immediate effect.
Mary Moore said she was stunned when the principal told her the modern languages in primary schools initiative was being scrapped and that the decision to abolish 300 teacher posts was afforded just one sentence in the budget address.
“I hadn’t heard about it until I got to school the morning after and I was asked by the principal how I felt about the bad news. I didn’t know what he meant. I was in total shock,” said Ms Moore, who teaches Spanish on a part-time basis at seven primary schools in Co Kerry.
“To think that my career and those of so many other people involved in the modern languages initiative could be ended just like that is dreadful. It was a very callous way for the minister to go about his business.”
Ms Moore, who has two schoolgoing children, has been teaching Spanish to primary school pupils for 12 years and insists it has benefited them as they prepare for secondary school.
“What it means is that they are not afraid of languages when they make that big step up. It gives them a great grounding and it teaches them all about other cultures, about travel and about other languages.
“The whole scheme was running so well and it was a wonderful success. It is a terribly backward step by the Government to scrap it. What savings will they make if all the teachers involved go on the dole?” asked Ms Moore, who teaches 180 children a week at Fossa, Faha, Cullina, Cromane, Douglas, Curraheen and Glenflesk.
Tanya Flanagan, the Kildare-based national co-ordinator of the modern languages initiative, said she was “absolutely devastated” by the cut considering how successful and financially efficient the programme was.
“We support modern languages in over 550 schools nationally with a core team of just six people. We provide training, resources and school-based support as well as funding 300 visiting teachers who deliver the programme within a budget of €2m,” she said.
Ms Flanagan said, in terms of early language training policy, Ireland is already years behind in its commitments under the Barcelona Agreement and the Lisbon Strategy.
“In such difficult economic times, how can this decision be justified? Years of expertise will be lost to the system and a whole generation of our children will be placed at an even greater disadvantage as they try to compete for jobs with our fellow Europeans.”
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