We are being driven to emigrate, says graduate
Published 29/04/2011 | 05:00
A YOUNG graduate claimed yesterday that newly qualified Irish teachers are being driven to emigration by an unfair 14pc pay reduction compared to their older colleagues and the increasing difficulty of securing a full-time job in Ireland.
Aoife Ni Mhaille -- a 24-year-old Irish language graduate from Leitrim -- received a standing ovation at the Association of Secondary Teachers of Ireland (ASTI) conference yesterday as she explained the brutal economic plight now facing young teachers.
"Teaching positions -- not to mention the very rare permanency -- are as hot as the Adele tickets for the Olympia last month," she said.
"As graduate teachers struggle to become an active part of the school community through part-time work, it has become apparent that our best chance of finding full-time work is to find it abroad -- emigration is the new permanency. But emigration is not an option for me as an Irish teacher."
Ms Ni Mhaille -- who completed a masters at Trinity College -- now faces a desperate battle to secure a job.
Even if she secures a position, the likelihood is that it will be either part-time or temporary -- and she will work for substantially less than her older colleagues started out on.
"There is no doubt that the proposed cuts are unfair and will cause unbalanced working conditions in Irish schools.
"The Government is naive to think that graduates won't be hurt by this unjust treatment or that inter-teacher relations, which are crucial to the running of a school, will not be weakened by such harsh proposals.
"The courses haven't changed, the fees haven't changed, the calibre of students hasn't changed, so why is the pay being changed?"
She said graduates know that they were singled out for harsh treatment. "We were targeted and we were hit hard."
Ms Ni Mhaille said that the inequitable treatment of young teachers and graduates needs to be rejected and compromised pay levels be reversed. "Education is an investment, not a cost. Ireland invested in our education and we want to give back and play our part in Ireland's recovery, which as we are told time and again, relies on providing high-quality education.
"Cost efficiency is possible, but it should not require anybody to carry an unequal burden and it must not be at the risk of undermining teaching standards or the education service," she added.