Written answers

Tuesday, 13 February 2007

Department of Education and Science

Adult Education

10:00 am

Liz O'Donnell (Dublin South, Progressive Democrats)
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Question 585: To ask the Minister for Education and Science her plans for developing and expanding language training for immigrants; the details of the current services; the role of the vocational education committees; the status of a submission made to her on the matter by County Wexford VEC; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5337/07]

Photo of Seán HaugheySeán Haughey (Dublin North Central, Fianna Fail)
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The White Paper on Adult Education "Learning for Life" (2000) stated that asylum seekers would be entitled to free access to Adult Literacy, English language and mother culture supports and refugees are entitled to the same access to education and training as Irish nationals.

My Department gives an annual grant to all Vocational Education Committees for the provision of Adult Literacy and Community Education. This fund may be used for the teaching of English to immigrants. The cost of the literacy service delivered by VECs was over €23 million in 2006. The number of students was over 35,000. 27% of these, amounting to 10,000 clients, attended English for Speakers as Other Language (ESOL) courses.

The language needs of migrants formed part of the negotiations between social partners in drawing up the new social partnership agreement "Towards 2016". A prioritised action included in the agreement is that the annual student cohort availing of the general national literacy service delivered by the Vocational Education Committees will be significantly increased by the provision of an extra 7,000 places by 2009, 3,000 of which will be provided this year. There will be a particular focus on the increasing number of migrants receiving an English language service (ESOL) under the terms of the agreement.

Co. Wexford VEC sought funding of €1.273m from my Department to provide a dedicated ESOL programme over the years 2006-2010. This was on a larger scale than normal and would have involved the employment of a number of new personnel and other significant costs. The Department felt unable to provide support for the project, due the scale of funding required in relation to resources available.


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