Tuesday 23 January 2018

Just three pupils for Inisturk school

Tom Shiel

The Government's proposal to increase the pupil-teacher ratio in primary schools isn't provoking any controversy or opposition on Inisturk Island, off Co Mayo, which will have only three pupils when it reopens next month and is struggling for survival.

The island, population 62, has fallen to its lowest enrolment ever. There are fears that in the years ahead St Columba's national school will have to close leaving the island without a primary school for the first time in living memory.

"We would certainly love if the pupil-teacher ratio could be improved. The more pupils the merrier," island development officer Mary Catherine Heanue said yesterday.

With enrolment falling to a perilously low number, the Inisturk community has launched a determined bid to attract new residents, especially young couples and their families.

"Any child coming to our island will be assured of the very best education," said Ms Heanue.

"The pupil-teacher ratio will be three-to-one next year . . . it's a dream ratio."

As well as almost one-to-one tuition, Inisturk offers balmy Atlantic breezes all year around, ample supplies of fresh fish and safe, barely trafficked roadways. There is also full speed broadband -- a facility that not all mainland communities enjoy.

The island school, which has been in existence since 1886, used to have two teachers but numbers have declined significantly in recent years in line with the general fall in population.

Sunday Independent

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