Wednesday, 1 March 2017
Department of Education and Skills
Further Education and Training Programmes
109. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills if discussions are taking place with the Department of Justice and Equality to allow persons in the asylum protection system to enrol in a range of programmes within further education and training, which includes local training initiatives, that are not available to persons not permitted to seek employment here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10514/17]
As the Deputy is aware, there is a range of programmes within further education and training provision, which including Local Training Initiatives, are provided specifically for those who are unemployed and are seeking employment. These programmes are specifically designed to assist jobseekers in gaining employment. There are currently no discussions taking place between my Department and the Department of Justice and Equality in relation to this issue.
Asylum seekers who do not have an entitlement to work are entitled to free access to adult literacy and English language education. My Department provides for English language training for adult immigrants (English for Speakers of Other Languages, ESOL) through the adult literacy budget. Some ESOL tuition is also funded through the Back to Education Initiative (BTEI) Programme. Refugees coming to Ireland as part of a Resettlement Programme are provided with education services through programmes such as the Adult Literacy and BTEI programmes.
In 2015 the decision was taken on a pilot basis to provide students in the asylum protection system with access to the student support scheme to ensure that they could continue their education. Following a review of the scheme last year, I was pleased to announce the continuation of the scheme for 2016/17. Under the scheme, students in the asylum protection system who meet certain criteria, including completion of the Leaving certificate and at least five academic years in the Irish school system and who have been accepted on an approved Post Leaving Certificate course or on an approved undergraduate course, are eligible to supports under the current Student Grant scheme on the same basis as EU applicants. The 2016/17 pilot scheme will be reviewed later this year.