Farm Ireland

Sunday 19 November 2017

Boland blasts rural schools policy

Ken Whelan

AMALGAMATING schools in rural areas is a form of "educational vandalism", Seamus Boland of Irish Rural Link (IRL) has claimed.

"Often primary schools are amalgamated in rural areas for policy reasons and pupils are transferred from viable traditional schools to continue their education – often in prefabs," he says.

"The Department of Education's policy in this area has adversely affected the quality of life in rural Ireland where the local school is the pulse of the community and this policy is also imposing additional costs on rural families," Mr Boland maintains.


This year's annual meeting of IRL in Moate will be addressed by a panel of education specialists, including former teacher and GAA commentator, Mícheál Ó Muirchearetaigh, Dr Maura Grealy of NUIG, Alice McDonnell of C&M Training, Dr Bryan Fields of Solas (formerly FÁS) and Prof Cíarán Ó Catháin, President of Athlone Institute of Technology.

Mr Boland says the school amalgamation issue had been brought to the attention of Education Minister, Ruari Quinn, but IRL is still waiting for a response from the minister.

The organisation wants a proper economic and quality-of-life analysis of the amalgamation policy to be undertaken before any more rural schools are closed through amalgamation.

The meeting will also discuss the need for more adult and further education courses designed for rural Ireland and the need for proper apprenticeship courses.

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"We have a situation where, in sparsely populated rural areas like Donegal, apprentice education is not available unless 10 or more apprentices are enrolled.

"In addition, these apprentices often have to travel considerable distances to participate in the course," says Mr Boland.

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