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O'Brien, Jonathan

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Further Education and Training Bill 2013: Report Stage

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Further Education and Training Bill 2013: Report Stage

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Further Education and Training Bill 2013: Report Stage

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Deputy Jonathan O'Brien

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Jonathan O'Brien

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Snippet Contents:

I welcome amendments Nos. 12 and 13. There was considerable discussion on Committee Stage. The inclusion of the community education providers was a very important issue for which there was cross-party support. I know there were many difficulties about how we would draft that to include community education providers. Thankfully, we have been able to do it.
The inclusion of these amendments cannot be overstated because they are so significant in terms of how further education will develop from the moment this legislation passes. The fact that for the first time, it will be enshrined in legislation that community education providers and adult learners will be consulted about the strategy that will be developed for the next five years will have a knock-on effect on every strategy that follows. I know we had a minor disagreement about the words "may" and "shall" but I understand that it is a drafting matter. We have received a commitment from the Minister of State that groups like NALA and Aontas will be consulted about and make a significant contribution to the development of the strategy.
Amendment No. 13 states that the strategy shall include a plan for the provision of further education and training programmes in the State aimed at promoting, developing and encouraging literacy and numeracy. That is a very significant development in this legislation. It may not be picked up by many members of the media but its importance will be felt for many years to come and will enhance the ability of many citizens, mostly those who have been disenfranchised and who have suffered because of lack of resources in this area. I would have preferred Deputy Boyd Barrett's amendment because it is more concrete in terms of what it sets out to achieve. Having discussed the legislation with the Minister of State on Second Stage and Committee Stage and in private meetings and with groups advocating for the literacy and numeracy strategy who deal with adult learners and community education providers, I have no doubt that there is a real commitment by the Department and Government to include these issues. This legislation has been greatly strengthened as a result of the inclusion of these amendments.
I also congratulate the Minister of State on the way he took on board views and gave a commitment to Deputies from all parties on Committee Stage that he would go away and try to come up with wording that would satisfy all of us. That is the way we should be discussing and formulating legislation in here. It was done on the basis of partnership. The Government not only listened to what was being said; it went away and tried to include the views of all the Members in this House and the legislation is all the better for it. I thank the Minister of State for his contribution from Committee Stage to Report Stage. We look forward to the passage of the Bill.