‘Further austerity measures would make day-to-day running of schools and colleges impossible’ – New TUI President

By piofficer, Wednesday, 8th July 2020 | 0 comments

Martin Marjoram began his term as President of the Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI) on 1st July. A native of Dublin, Mr Marjoram is a lecturer in Mathematics at the Tallaght campus of TU Dublin and has served as Vice-President of the Union since 2018.

Sincere thanks are extended to outgoing President Seamus Lahart on his
achievements and dedication during his term of office.

Speaking today, new TUI President Martin Marjoram said:

‘I look forward to the various challenges ahead over my term of office. Clearly, the matter of most urgent importance relates to ensuring the safe return to schools and colleges for students and educators and any approach must be consistent with the advice of the public health authorities. In this regard, we will continue to work intensively with the Department of Education and Skills and the Department of Higher Education, innovation and Science and the other stakeholders in the coming days and weeks.’

Vigilance in protecting against austerity

‘In the medium term, as we emerge from the national health emergency, it is incumbent on TUI and the wider trade union movement to be vigilant in ensuring that the hugely damaging and widely discredited austerity agenda is not allowed to emerge again. This agenda heaped further disadvantage on those already marginalised in society, and the education system and the service it supplies to students has not yet recovered from the unnecessary damage foisted on it in the aftermath of the last recession. It has been hacked back to the bare bones and further budget cuts would make the day-to-day business of schools and colleges unworkable.’

Second level – Teacher supply crisis

‘Austerity’s legacy is all too apparent at second level, where the two-tier pay system has resulted in a teacher supply crisis. A survey carried out in January illustrated that four in five schools had recently advertised positions for which no teacher applied. Teacher recruitment and retention difficulties lessen and limit the educational experience, resulting in students missing out on subject choices or being taught by ‘out-of-field’ teachers.’

Third level – Era of funding cuts

‘Meanwhile, the Institute of Technology/Technological University sector has suffered an era of significant cuts to funding, resulting in larger class sizes, cuts to contact hours, cuts to budgets for equipment and less access to laboratories. All of these have had a severely damaging effect on both the educational experience of students and the working conditions of academic staff.’

Further and adult education – Terms of employment

‘There also remains much work to be done in securing appropriate contracts and terms and conditions for those working in the further and adult education sectors.’

Opportunity in a time of crisis

‘If there is to be an opportunity presented by the current crisis, it is in ensuring that education across all sectors is protected and prioritised by Government as a key driver of the country’s recovery. Investment in education reaps huge dividends economically and socially. Teachers and lecturers will not be found wanting in playing their part, but our policy-makers must learn from the mistakes of the recent past.’

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