The recent budget and the changes announced in the enrolment threshold for all schools with 4 teachers or less will have massive implications for our rural national schools. Minister for Education, Ruairi Quinn T.D.,informed Dáil Éireann that there would not be any change to the staffing schedule for schools except in the case of 1, 2, 3 and 4 teacher schools. You will be aware, of course, that the overwhelming majority of such schools are located in rural Ireland but particularly in the western half of the country and along the western seaboard. Interestingly, he also announced some cuts for Urban DEIS Schools but these were quickly reversed last week when a delegation of his Labour Party colleagues left him in no doubt as regards the flak they were getting in Dublin because of his proposals.
The proposals, if they are allowed to be implemented, will cause 3 teacher schools to become 2 teacher. 2 teacher schools will become 1 teacher. But it is quite clear that with fewer teachers teaching bigger and bigger classes the whole situation will become unworkable and inadvisable. Inevitably, schools will close left, right and centre as amalgamations take place and, gradually and by stealth, the government will achieve its goal – the education of as many rural children as possible in towns and large centres. By direct and indirect means the policy of dismantling rural Ireland will be achieved.
Unless we are prepared to make a stand, the ‘country school’ which has been in existence since 1831 will become a thing of the past and follow rural Garda Stations, rural shops, rural post offices, turf cutting and a rural way of life. As you read this, rural communities nationwide are being galvanised into action as the reality of this vile, mean-spirited, sly and unjust plot becomes apparent. To be part of this movement the local schools have united in convening a public meeting to be held in The Yeats County Inn, Curry on Tuesday next, January 24th at 8 pm. All who hold dear the rural way of life and who cherish the freedom of the next generation to live in a rural setting and to be educated in their local school are urged to attend.
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