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Further Education and Training Bill 2013: Report Stage (Continued)

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 806 No. 2

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Deputy Ciarán Cannon: Information on Ciarán Cannon Zoom on Ciarán Cannon I move amendment No. 2:

In page 6, to delete lines 4 to 12.

This is a drafting amendment that deletes the definition of a training body.

  Amendment agreed to.

Deputy Ciarán Cannon: Information on Ciarán Cannon Zoom on Ciarán Cannon I move amendment No. 3:

In page 7, line 13, to delete “training bodies” and substitute “education and training boards”.

  Amendment agreed to.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt Amendments Nos. 4 and 7 to 10, inclusive, are related and may be discussed together.

Deputy Ciarán Cannon: Information on Ciarán Cannon Zoom on Ciarán Cannon I move amendment No. 4:

In page 7, line 17, to delete “training” and substitute “training and retraining”.

This is a drafting amendment to align SOLAS training functions with that of FÁS to ensure seamless continuity of service delivery following the establishment of SOLAS.

Deputy Jonathan O'Brien: Information on Jonathan O'Brien Zoom on Jonathan O'Brien I welcome amendment No. 4, which recognises the importance of retraining and not just training, which is an important addition. Amendment No. 7 inserts into the functions the promotion of equality of opportunity in regard to the provision of further education and training, which is an important addition. It is an issue we discussed on Committee Stage and we did a lot of work with other Members and with the advocacy groups in this regard. It is an important amendment, which I welcome.

I also welcome amendment No. 8, which will ensure an enhanced level of co-operation with the Department of Social Protection in terms of the people who will be able to avail of training and retraining. It is another important amendment, and, coupled with amendment No. 7, greatly enhances the functions of "An tSeirbhís" and the overall Bill.

  Amendment agreed to.

Deputy Ciarán Cannon: Information on Ciarán Cannon Zoom on Ciarán Cannon I move amendment No. 5:

In page 7, line 20, to delete “training bodies” and substitute “education and training boards”.

  Amendment agreed to.

Deputy Ciarán Cannon: Information on Ciarán Cannon Zoom on Ciarán Cannon I move amendment No. 6:

In page 7, line 31, to delete “training bodies” and substitute “education and training boards”.

  Amendment agreed to.

Deputy Ciarán Cannon: Information on Ciarán Cannon Zoom on Ciarán Cannon I move amendment No. 7:

In page 7, between lines 33 and 34, to insert the following:

“(i) promote equality of opportunity in relation to the provision of further education and training,”.

  Amendment agreed to.

Deputy Ciarán Cannon: Information on Ciarán Cannon Zoom on Ciarán Cannon I move amendment No. 8:

In page 7, between lines 47 and 48, to insert the following:

“(2) An tSeirbhís shall, upon a request from the Minister, provide the Minister with information, in such form and manner as the Minister may specify, as respects persons placed in further education and training programmes to which paragraph (g) of subsection (1) applies.”.

  Amendment agreed to.

Deputy Ciarán Cannon: Information on Ciarán Cannon Zoom on Ciarán Cannon I move amendment No. 9:

In page 7, between lines 47 and 48, to insert the following:

“(3) An tSeirbhís may, for the purpose of defraying any expense incurred by it in the provision of any service, charge a fee to the recipient of the service provided that any such fee shall not exceed the cost to An tSeirbhís of providing the service.”.

  Amendment agreed to.

Deputy Ciarán Cannon: Information on Ciarán Cannon Zoom on Ciarán Cannon I move amendment No. 10:

In page 7, between lines 47 and 48, to insert the following:]

“(4) An tSeirbhís may, for the purposes of any further education and training that it is, for the time being, providing in the State to persons who are ordinarily resident in the State provide, or arrange for the provision of, a service to those persons outside the State.”.

  Amendment agreed to.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt Amendments Nos. 11 to 14, inclusive, are related and may be discussed together.

Deputy Ciarán Cannon: Information on Ciarán Cannon Zoom on Ciarán Cannon I move amendment No. 11:

In page 8, line 32, to delete “in the course of” and substitute “for the purpose of”.

Amendment No. 11 is simply a drafting amendment replacing the phrase “in the course of” and substituting “for the purpose of” in section 9(4). With regard to amendment No. 12, Deputy O'Brien spoke of the significant collaboration and discussion that has occurred at committee level on this legislation. The learning and community education sector are very much part of the provision of further education and training. Following discussion on Committee Stage of that Bill and again at a subsequent informal meeting with the select committee, I am bringing forward this amendment to highlight the role of these groups in the development of the further education and training strategy. Amendment No. 12 provides that, in addition to other named bodies, SOLAS may consult community education providers and learners.

  In recognition of the need to improve literacy and numeracy in the country, and following similar discussions on Committee Stage of the Bill and again at a subsequent informal meeting with the select committee, I am bringing forward this amendment to ensure the inclusion of a literacy and numeracy strategy as part of the development of an overall further education and training strategy. Amendment No. 13 provides that the national further education and training strategy developed under section 9 shall include a strategy aimed at promoting, developing and encouraging literacy and numeracy.

  With regard to amendment No. 14 in the name of Deputy Boyd Barrett, I believe the substantive issue raised is dealt with in the context of amendment No. 13. We have now made a commitment, which is provided for in the legislation, to secure the inclusion of a literacy and numeracy strategy as part of the development of a further education and training strategy under SOLAS.

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett On a minor point of order before I make my substantial comments on the amendment, why are amendments Nos. 11 and 12 grouped with amendments Nos. 13 and 14? They are separate issues, are they not? It does not matter much but I wonder why they are grouped.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt I understand they are grouped by the Bills Office.

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett They seem to be distinct issues.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt It is designed to avoid repetition so there must be something linking them.

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett I am curious about that. I welcome the Minister of State's acknowledgement of the issue that is the subject of my amendment No. 14. Like his amendment probably is, my amendment is a result of lobbying by people active in the area of adult literacy. They were keen that a specific commitment be included in the Bill on the need for a strategy on literacy and numeracy, given it is such an important issue. One in four people in the country - a very high figure - has literacy or numeracy problems of some degree. It is welcome that the Minister of State has included this and well done to the organisations that have pushed and lobbied for this inclusion.

I hope this commitment in the legislation will also be backed up with resources and with the implementation of such a strategy. It is an important issue. In passing, I note that the cuts or changes to the pupil-teacher ratio in further education colleges will potentially have an impact on this area and on the ability of the State and the Department of Education and Skills to have a strategy that really works and develops our literacy and numeracy campaign. The organisations that are campaigning on these issues and that advocate on behalf of those who have literacy issues have said a lot more needs to be done than is being done currently. We need outreach strategies and we need to have more hours of tuition for those, given the average is currently two to three hours and these organisations suggest it should be up to six hours. They also suggest more one-to-one tuition is needed for people with literacy and numeracy problems.

All of those issues require resources. While it is a welcome step that this is included in the Bill, I hope the Government and the Minister of State can assure us it will be backed up with resources. As we discussed in other contexts, we need some sort of assurance that this area will not be adversely affected by the cuts and changes in the pupil-teacher ratio in the further education colleges, which I and people in that sector fear it may be.


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