Ireland budgets for bailout exit but teacher numbers set to rise in 2014

 

The debate over teacher numbers in our schools and the knock-on effect that has on class sizes will always be a sensitive subject; with many parents feeling there will never be enough teachers to ensure their children receive the attention and education they deserve.

But news emanating from Ireland suggests their education system may be bucking this perceived trend, thanks to a delay in budget cuts.

Minister for Public Expenditure Brendan Howlin has recently announced a recruitment drive in the education sector, which will see an extra 1,250 teachers employed in the next 12 months.

The department has also hinted that the number could rise as high as 1,400 as the State attempts to address rising pupil numbers throughout the country.

The announcement comes despite a predicted fall in Ireland’s budget by some €31 million in 2014 to €8.7 billion, with Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn understood to be facing cuts of €100 million before the overall adjustment figure was reduced.

The news will make pleasant reading for trainee teachers who may have been worried about finding employment amid talk of huge budget cuts as the country prepares a bailout exit strategy.

But it would seem the education sector has been spared for the time being.

The department said a €25 million cut to third level funding announced last year, which was to be restored in 2014, will not come in until 2015.

Of these cuts the Department of Education has said: “The Higher Education Institutions are expected to continue to deliver the same level of services by more prudent management of their existing cash balances as they are doing at present.”

As Ireland prepares for life following the much publicised bailout, which saw the country rely on loans from fellow EU countries, many people have been bracing themselves for a collective tightening of belts.

Even so, Ireland is on track to exit its international bailout programme by December, according to Prime Minister Enda Kenny. He explained to the Fine Gael party conference in Limerick recently that although fragile times lay ahead, the economic emergency will soon be over.

The 85bn euro (£73bn) bailout was forced on the country after its biggest banks collapsed in 2010.

 “As we come to the end of Ireland’s bailout, I firmly believe that protecting the education system is one of the best ways to invest in our economic recovery,” Education Minister Mr Quinn said.

“Education is no different to other areas in needing to contribute to the stabilisation of the nation’s finances and this year, the Government is making it very clear that education is important to us.”

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