Initial Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI) response to Budget 2021 – comments from TUI General Secretary Michael Gillespie.
TUI represents over 19,000 members in second level schools, colleges of further and adult education and Institutes of Technology/Technological Universities.
Teacher recruitment and retention crisis will continue
‘It is important to note that the additional teaching posts announced for second level today are a necessity in order to meet demographic needs.
Regrettably, it is clear that the teacher recruitment and retention crisis at second level will continue until the scourge of pay discrimination is eliminated. In a survey carried out among principals and deputy principals in August, 98% said that their schools had experienced difficulties employing substitute teachers over the past twelve months. 81% of these believe that pay discrimination is a significant factor in this.
At second level, the latest OCED figures show that Ireland’s spend is the lowest of the 36 countries for which figures are provided, trailing unacceptably far behind the OECD and European averages.’
Third level – political failure to address funding crisis continues
‘At third level, the ongoing political failure to properly address the sector’s funding crisis continues, and students and academic staff will continue to suffer as a result.’
COVID-19 – Resources for health and safety
‘As we have said at all times, we will not allow the health and safety of our members to be compromised and whatever additional resources are required to provide additional supports and safeguards as a consequence of COVID-19 must be provided on an ongoing basis.
The effects of the historic, chronic underfunding of education in Ireland have been put in sharp focus by the burden of the additional demands foisted on the system by the pandemic. As a result of inadequate investment, increased bureaucratic duties and vastly stripped-back middle management structures, conditions for educators and students are more difficult than those in other countries where education has been more appropriately funded.’
Value of education not recognised
‘Across the education system, schools, centres and colleges will still struggle with the ongoing legacy of previous cutbacks. Appropriate investment in education pays dividends in terms of better quality jobs and increased revenue from taxation and social contributions. It also provides individuals and their dependents with better life prospects. It is regrettable that the country’s policymakers have, once again, failed to recognise the value of education.’