|The EFA 2000 Assessment: Country Reports|
Part III Prospects
11. Policy directions for the future
The 1999 National Development Plan has provided £5.35bn for Education.
Social Inclusion and Life-Long Learning will be the Key Beneficiaries
The spending of the £5.35 billion will concentrate on promoting social inclusion, greatly expanding second-chance and life-long learning opportunities and on modernising education facilities at all levels.
The Government has established education as a key priority and the National Development Plan represents the unprecedented underpinning and expansion of programmes across the next seven years.
The number of education issues covered by the Plan has greatly expanded from its predecessor and funding is very clearly focussed on national priorities. These are:
Detailed Funding Provisions
In addition to providing for the continued funding for Skills Development through the Post-Graduate Conversion Courses, Certificate and Diploma Courses, Apprenticeship and Tourism related training in the Technology Sector (£1,360.48m) which have contributed so substantially to our economic success, the NDP includes funding for the following:
SOCIAL INCLUSION - £441.3m
This includes funding for:
-Early Childhood Education - £74m
-Early Literacy Initiative - £11.75m
-Adult Literacy Initiative - £73.8m
-School Completion Initiative - £75.5m
-Third Level Access Fund - £95m
-Refugees Education Support - £3.5m
Funding is guaranteed at existing levels for the School Guidance Service (£98m) with provision for programme development, and Travellers education (£9.8m).
LIFELONG LEARNING - £1,085m
The funding for the Lifelong Learning measures in the education sector provides for
-Back to Education Initiative-£1,027m (incl. VTOS and Youthreach)
-Further Education Supports (including Guidance and Counselling)-£35m
QUALITY IMPROVEMENT - £126m
Provision is made for:-
-In-career Development of Primary and Post-Primary- £63.7m
-Quality Assurance in Third-Level system (including Training of Trainers)-£22.75m
-National Qualifications System, Certification and Programme Evaluation. £39.5m
EQUAL OPPORTUNITIES - £19.6m
YOUTH SERVICES -£165.8m
RESEARCH, TECHNOLOGY, DEVELOPMENT AND
INNOVATION - £550m
This investment which builds on the current initiatives to improve R&D capability in the third-level institutions is the largest ever, targeted, investment in favour of R&D in education.
EDUCATION INFRASTRUCTURE - £1,600m
This represents the largest ever multi-annual commitment to investment in the improvement of our education infrastructure at Primary, Post Primary and Third Level with significant front loading in the earlier years of the programme.
The areas covered by the Plan relate directly to the Governments policies as set out in the National Employment Action Plan and do not cover all areas of the education system. Similarly, funding for the issues covered by the Plan may also be provided outside of the formal Plan
Social Inclusion Measures in the Education Sector (Goal 6)
NDP Expenditure - £441.35 million
The Governments social inclusion measures include several educational disadvantage measures, namely an Early Education Initiative, a School Completion Initiative, Early Literacy, Traveller Education, School Guidance Service, Third Level Access, the National Adult Literacy Strategy and Refugee Language Support.
Early Education - £74m (Goal 1)
The aim of the Early Education measure is to provide early interventions to encourage long-term education participation, address literacy and numeracy difficulties at an early stage and to prevent subsequent problems giving rise to long-term unemployment, social problems etc. Funding will be directed at key target groups and provided on a devolved basis and integrated within area-based interventions in the case of areas with significant concentrations of educational disadvantage. Further details will be set out in the context of the forthcoming White Paper on Early Childhood Development.
School Completion - £75.5m
In the period 2000-2006, it is intended to build on the experiences from the 8-15 year olds early school leaver pilots initiated in 1998 and the Stay-in-School pilot established in 1999. The School Completion initiative will be designed to deal with issues of both concentrated and regionally dispersed disadvantage. Schools involved in the initiative will be required to operate on a multi-agency basis establishing appropriate cross community links. Key elements of each schools retention plan will be links with feeder primary schools and co-ordination with local agencies.
Early Literacy -£11.75m (Goal 3)
The achievement of high literacy skills is central to both general educational attainment and subsequent success. The NDP is providing for a co-ordinated approach to the problem which will significantly improve literacy skills at all age levels. The Early Literacy Measure will involve the implementation of a pro-active approach to preventing literacy difficulties and will include a public awareness campaign, an improvement of the effectiveness of the school remedial service, better home/school co-operation on literacy, the development of support materials and the systematic monitoring of progress.
Traveller Education - £9.8m
The Government is committed to increasing the retention level at post-primary to completion of senior cycle and to improving the participation of travellers in the education/training system. The objective is to encourage each traveller child of school-going age to participate in and benefit from the education system and to enable each pupil to develop to his/her full potential and to increase the retention level of traveller pupils to completion of post-primary senior cycle and to provide them with further education/training progression options.
School Guidance Service - £98m
The School Completion Initiative and Traveller Education measure will be supported by the School Guidance Service. The aims of the School Guidance Service are to prevent difficulties encountered by students hindering their participation in or benefiting from the education system and to provide guidance regarding further education and third level options. This service will also be complemented by provision for guidance under the Lifelong Learning Measure for young people and adults who have either failed within or been failed by the formal system.
Third Level Access - £95m
Building on the existing arrangements, the development of Third Level Access is necessary to promote the participation of students with disabilities, students from disadvantaged backgrounds and mature "second chance" students. The objective of this measure is to facilitate and improve access to the labour market for the beneficiaries whilst improving their long-term employability through enhancing their educational qualifications.
National Adult Literacy Strategy - £73.8m (Goal 4)
High levels of literacy and numeracy are a prerequisite for participation in a modern knowledge based economy. The National Adult Literacy Strategy will promote system development to ensure increased access to literacy, numeracy and basic education for adults whose skills are inadequate for participation in society. The measure will to provide an integrated service to support access to employment, a return to lifelong learning or empower participants with the basic skills needed to participate in the social and economic life of their communities. It is proposed to have intensive programmes targeted at those most in need allied with family learning programmes and a small number of demonstration open learning centres and distance learning. The National Adult Literacy Strategy will promote a rapid increase in participation, rising to 18,000 annually by the end of the Plan. It is anticipated that approximately 110,000 people will participate in the programme during the period of the Plan.
Refugee Language Support - £3.5m
Provision is being made for the operation of the Refugee Language Support Unit under the auspices of Trinity College Dublin. The objectives of the Unit are (a) to ensure that the school-going refugee cohort acquire sufficient competency to enable them to be absorbed into the education system and (b) to provide sufficient competency to those not of school-going age to enable them to participate in training programmes, take up employment and live independently.
Lifelong Learning - Back to Education Initiative (Goal 3)
NDP Expenditure - £1,027 million
51% of the short-term unemployed and just under 75% of the long-term unemployed have less than upper secondary education. Improved job prospects in recent years are resulting in participants being attracted out of educational courses into employment prior to completion and attainment of qualifications. For those most marginalised, an immediate return to full-time education or training is not always realistic. In addition, demographic change will make it an imperative to encourage those not at present in the labour force to re-enter employment. A range of factors are therefore converging which highlight the need for much greater flexibility in the delivery and timing of educational provision to enable it to be combined with family responsibilities or employment.
The Back to Education Initiative (BTEI) involves the merging and continuation of existing levels of provision under Youthreach, Senior Traveller Training Centres, the Vocational Training Opportunity Scheme and Post-Leaving Certificate courses, allied to new forms of provision of the courses.
The BTEI will play a key role both in addressing the needs of those with minimal or no educational qualifications, and providing a re-entry route for those who wish to upgrade their skills in line with emerging needs. Access to information and communications technology training, electronic technician training, language skills, enterprise development, business, tourism, art and craft, child care, and a broad range of disciplines within the industry and services sector will form part of the approach as will access to the Junior and Leaving Certificate examinations and other access programmes. Community education opportunities will be expanded and supported as part of the initiative, given the success of the model in reaching very marginalised groups.
The overall target will be to increase the opportunities for participation in lifelong learning through a significant expansion of part-time options so that by the end of 2006 approximately 50,000 early school leavers and adults will be participating annually in further education.
Lifelong Learning - Further Education Support Services (Goal 5)
NDP Expenditure - £35 million
If access to lifelong learning is to become a reality, the expansion of education and training provision needs to be accompanied by measures to meet the guidance, counselling and psychological service needs of participants while they are on programmes. Initial progress was made in this area arising from the Mid-Term Review of the Community Support Framework, 1994-1999 when additional funding was provided to facilitate a guidance/counselling and psychological service for early school leavers in Youthreach, Community Training Workshops and Traveller Training Workshops and Traveller Training Centres.
A Further Education Support measure is proposed to support access to the Back to Education Initiatives and Adult Literacy opportunities through the provision of an adult guidance and counselling service aimed at supporting participants enrolled on programmes in the further education sector. It will also support improved quality through staff and programme development initiatives.
In relation to guidance, linkages with other agencies will form a vital part of the initiative, particularly at the initial referral and progression stages. The measure will be designed to avoid overlap and duplication with existing services in this area. The development of the guidance service in education will also provide an important contact point for providers in the FAS Employment Services. The development of the service will be advised by inter-agency working group which will include the National Centre for Guidance in Education, FAS and educational providers.
Lifelong Learning Languages (Goal 5)
NDP Expenditure - £23 million.
The promotion of a greater general proficiency in languages has been identified as a key to protecting and enhancing Irelands competitiveness. At present, French and German are the dominant languages taught in second level schools with very low participation in other languages. In recent years new curricula have been introduced in order to improve the quality of language programmes and the level of student attainment.
Under the Community Support Framework 1994-99, a pilot programme on the teaching of European languages in primary schools was introduced. Currently involving 270 schools, it is proposed to significantly increase the number of participating schools. During 1999, the Department of Education and Science initiated work to design a fuller policy on the teaching of languages which have low participation in second-level schools or are not available as part of current syllabi. Arising from this work, it is proposed to promote wider teaching of Italian, Spanish and other languages in post-primary schools.
NDP Expenditure - £126 million
The Quality Improvement measures consist of In-career Development for teachers at first and second levels, Quality Assurance (QA) including Training of Trainers - at third level as well as the National Qualifications Framework and Programme Evaluation processes.
In-career Development - £63.7m
In-career Development of teachers and trainers is critical to ensuring their capacity to respond to the constant challenges posed by curricular change and by Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs). The In-career Development (Training of Trainers) measure for primary and post primary teachers will be delivered to a large extent through the national network of Education Centres and in conjunction with the Education Partners. The measure will include long and short cycle courses, some of which will lead to formal certification or the accumulation of credits towards an award. Needs are identified on the basis of systems needs analysis studies undertaken at both levels of the system, and consultation with educational interests. In-career Development will be provided for a range of programme areas and priority objectives in special and mainstream education. Priorities identified include revised and restructured curricula with particular emphasis on ICTs, pedagogical skills, social inclusion issues, parent and school management needs and gender equity modules.
Third Level Quality Assurance - £22.75m
Under section 35 of the Universities Act, 1997 universities are obliged to establish procedures for QA aimed at improving the quality of education and related services. Central elements will include self-evaluation, peer review, reporting and external monitoring. The Institutes of Technology will also be centrally involved in the development of QA procedures under this measure especially in the context of the unique need of multi-level institutions. Allied to the establishment of QA systems is the need for ongoing professional development and updating of teaching methodologies. The Training of Trainers measure has facilitated the provision of a range of short courses for university staff in this regard. The measure will provide additional opportunities to address the issue of skills updating while also focusing on pedagogical training, teaching evaluation and appraisal and the development of management skills. In response to the broadening of higher education opportunities, the measure will also address gender equity and the particular needs of non-traditional student groups.
Certification and National Qualifications Framework - £35m
The establishment of a National Qualifications Framework, which is critical to the delivery of a high quality and efficient market led range of programmes will be a key horizontal objective under the Plan Funding is being made available for the implementation of the Qualifications (Education and Training) Act 1999. A central objective of the Act is the need to ensure greater partnership, co-operation and cohesion between the education and training sector on the one hand and industry, business and the wider community on the other. Provision is being made for the implementation of the Qualifications Act. Provision is also made for the funding in the interim of the certification functions of the NCVA.
Programme Evaluation - £4.5m
Evaluation is a central element of this measure. Provision is being made in the NDP for the establishment of a programme evaluation function to review the efficiency and effectiveness of measures being funded in the context of the NDP.
NDP Expenditure - £19.6m
In line with Government policy and EU policy, and with the provisions of the Education Act 1998, it is the policy of the Department of Education & Science to mainstream gender equality. In this connection, provision is being made under the NDP for three specific elements, the Educational Disadvantage Measure, the Equal Opportunities Promotion and Monitoring and the provision of childcare support for participants in programmes within the education sector.
Educational Disadvantage Measure
A Womens Education Initiative was established in 1998 with assistance under the 1994-99 CSF to assist projects to address the current gaps in provision for educationally disadvantaged women. The measure will provide for an expansion of such activity in the years ahead, focused not just on the particular needs of women, but also on the needs of educationally disadvantaged men. The aim of the projects selected under this initiative will be to address gaps in the provision of education and training for specific marginalised groups, to mainstream learning, to facilitate progression of marginalised groups and individuals and to disseminate learning and share good practice.
Equal Opportunities Promotion and Monitoring
In line with its commitments to the promotion of equal opportunities in the education sector, the Department of Education & Science will fund
Provision is also being made for the availability of childcare services for VTOS, Youthreach and Senior Traveller Centre programmes in particular, with a view to removing obstacles to the participation of trainees in these programmes.
Youth Services (Goal 5)
NDP Expenditure - £165.8m
Provision is being made under the Regional Operational Programmes of the NDP to facilitate the continuation during 2000-2006 of the existing range of Youth Services under the aegis of the Department of Education & Science, to be applied mainly to the following Schemes:
Funding is provided under this Scheme directly to National Voluntary Youth Work Organisations. The programmes of the Organisations are aimed at the social education of young people and seek to promote their development as individuals, as members of their communities and as citizens in society.
Under this Scheme grants are allocated in respect of special out-of school projects for disadvantaged young people. The projects are aimed at facilitating the personal development and social education of youth at risk of drug abuse, juvenile crime, early school leaving, social exclusion, unemployment, welfare dependence, homelessness and marginalisation. In particular they seek to realize the potential of young people and to equip them with the knowledge, skills and attitudes necessary for their appropriate integration in society.
Resources are also provided for the development of a network of Youth Information Centres, of which the purpose is to provide young people with easy access to information on rights, opportunities, benefits, health, welfare and other matters. These Centres, by providing information to young people on a wide range of subjects of interest to them, help them to develop their abilities and to overcome their problems more effectively.
The purpose of the YPFSF, established by the Government in 1998, is to assist in the development of preventative strategies in a targeted manner through the development of youth facilities, including sport and recreational facilities, and services in disadvantaged areas where a significant drug problem exists or has the potential to develop. The aim of the Fund is to attract young people in these areas at risk of becoming involved in drugs, into more healthy and productive pursuits.
Research, Technological Development & Innovation (Research & Development)
NDP Expenditure - £550m (£281m for current and £269m for capital).
The proposed investment of £550 million represents the single largest commitment ever to enhancing the research, technological development and innovation capacity of the third level education sector.
Research is a core element of the mission of higher education. The extent to which higher education institutions are engaged in research and development (R&D) activities has a key role in determining the status and the quality of these institutions and the contribution which they make to economic and social development.
The investment will facilitate a major capital investment programme to develop the R&D physical infrastructure of the third-level institutions in line with national strategic priorities. The increase funding of R&D in the education sector will boost human potential in research, science and technology and will strengthen the research and science capability of our higher education institutions. This will in turn facilitate collaborative efforts with industry to ensure an R&D culture in all sectors of the economy.
The additional investment being provided in the NDP will build upon the existing initiatives to continue and develop the innovative Programme for Research in Third Level Institutions 1999-2001 which involves a system of competitive bidding, between the third level institutions, for research programmes to support national strategic objectives that are consistent with the stated research strategies of the institutions. The strengthening of graduate enterprise programmes and of higher education-industry links will be a priority in this measure. The investment will also allow for the development of schemes of post-graduate and post-doctoral supports for researchers and will facilitate the expansion of peer reviewed project basic research. Inter-institutional co-operation will also be targeted to ensure critical mass at national level in key areas. Similarly, recognizing the need to ensure a vibrancy and dynamism in the research community, strategies will be developed to ensure that researchers are afforded the opportunity to work alongside top-class researchers and are fully engaged in quality research activities.
NDP Expenditure - £1.6 billion approximately
This NDP provision for capital expenditure represents the single largest commitment ever by Government on a multi-annual basis to education infrastructure. It includes investment in primary and second level schools, the further education sector and third level institutions. Such investment is necessary to ensure that education meets the changing skill needs of individuals, society and industry. It will cover buildings, new machinery and equipment and information technology. This investment, in new technology in particular, will facilitate continuing education programmes, the development of new open learning/distance education packages, outreach programmes, access for disadvantaged and non traditional student and rural/community development.
The quality of the learning environment provided in schools has a clear impact on the achievement of pupils. School accommodation must meet modern standards and must adequately support effective teaching and learning. As such, school buildings must form a central part of an integrated education plan to achieve and enhance quality outcomes. A very substantial investment is now required to redress the historical deficit in infrastructural investment in our schools including the further education sector. Funding has already been significantly increased and this has had an important impact in schools throughout the country.
Third level infrastructural investment levels are intended to consolidate and enhance the investment in education which have been ongoing for several years and which has facilitated the recent unprecedented growth in the national economy. A major strategic challenge for the economy will continue to be the ongoing provision of a skilled workforce to meet the needs of industry. This is generally accepted as a critical part of maintaining our competitive advantage. The specific higher education infrastructure investment included in the NDP fully reflects this and accordingly includes the provision of additional student places across the sector, the upgrading and renewal of equipment.
Skills Development Apprenticeship (Goal 5)
NDP Expenditure - £87.5 million
The education sector element of the Apprenticeship Programme is delivered through the regionally based Institutes of Technology, including institutes in the lesser-developed regions. The aims of the apprenticeship programme is to provide the skilled crafts persons essential to ensure economic growth and enhance the sustainable employment prospects of persons who require training from the apprenticeship system, to secure skilled jobs as well as equipping participants with the skills necessary for lifelong learning.
A key element of this measure run jointly by F.Á.S. and the Department of Education and Science is the provision of off-the-job training in the Institutes of Technology. The apprenticeship system is structured in seven distinct phases of education and training of which phases 4 and 6 are delivered in the institutes. The aims of phases 4 and 6 are to provide all apprentices with the opportunity to learn, practice and develop the basic skills of their trade, to familiarise them with the terminology, tools, materials, equipment and working practices which will form the foundation for their further development and progression. In the education sector, it is expected that there will be over 7,000 places in the programme annually.
Skills Development - Middle Level Technician/Higher Technical Business Skills (Goal 5)
NDP Expenditure £1,056.3 million
The objectives of the Middle Level Technician/Higher Technical Business Skills Measure are to:
- enhance industrial competitiveness
- contribute economic growth and maximise sustainable employment,
by providing initial third level education and training to meet the technical and higher level manpower needs of the economy.
The measure involves the funding of certificate and diploma courses in the regionally based Institutes of Technology, including institutes in the lesser-developed regions. Courses are offered in such areas as engineering, biotechnology, telecommunications, information technology, construction studies, marketing, business studies, accounting/financial services, chemical/pharmaceutical and food technology. It is proposed during the period of the National Development Plan to develop greater linkages with industry, including work placement during courses and joint initiatives to tackle particular skills shortages (e.g. the recent joint education/industry task force established to develop the national Certificates in Computing and Technology, address the shortage of trained technicians). The provision of part-time/evening course modules and options within the programme will be facilitated, as resources permit, in the context of the promotion of lifelong learning in the IT sector.
It is anticipated that approximately 30,000 students will participate in the programme annually.
Skills Development - Undergraduate Skills (Goals 3 and 5)
NDP Expenditure - £90.65 million
The issue of raising the skills profile of the people and of addressing the skills needs of the economy has been identified as a key priority in the Action Programme for the Millennium and Partnership 2000.
The key importance of the quality and quantity of graduates coming from the education system at certificate, diploma and degree level in attracting high technology industry has been acknowledged and a significant investment has been made in recent years to ensure that the skills-needs identified in the high technology area are met by the availability of high quality graduates.
Recent investment initiatives have resulted in a significant expansion in the number of third level places in the area of information and communications technology. This investment has followed the recommendations of the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs and the National Competitiveness Council which was established as part of the business education and training partnership set up to develop national strategies to tackle the issue of skill needs, labour market needs estimation and education and training for business. The focus of the Expert Groups work to date has been on the technology skill needs of the hardware electronics and software sectors, having regard to the employment growth and future potential growth in these sectors.
The Undergraduate Skills Measure in the National Development Plan provides the necessary current funding required to support the additional third level places being provided to meet skill needs and thereby contribute to increasing the adaptability of the work force.
Skills Development - Postgraduate Conversion Courses (Goals 3 and 5)
NDP Expenditure - £46.13 million
The National Competitiveness Council, in its 1999 Report, identified the central position of skills as an essential element of long term competitiveness and highlighted the need to alleviate pervasive skills shortages in the economy which threaten our capacity to realise our full growth potential. The Expert Group on future Skills Needs recognised multi-skilling and conversion programmes as a cost-effective and flexible mechanism to address emerging skills needs particularly in the context of the information society.
A key element in this programme is the inclusion of recruitment opportunities for graduates through a number of initiatives to be co-ordinated on behalf of industry by the Irish Business and Employers Confederation. Under the Plan, this programme will be continued and adapted to meet emerging skills needs in the period.
It is anticipated that approximately 1,500 trainees will participate in the programme in an academic year.
Sectoral Training (Tourism) in the Education Sector
NDP Expenditure - £79.9m
This is jointly operated with CERT (Council for Education, Recruitment and Training), which provides training under two strands:
At present these programmes are delivered in association with eight Institutes of Technology and Killybegs Tourism College.
The aim of this measure is to provide a professional and skilled workforce to meeting the existing and emerging needs of the sector and thereby to enhance the quality of the tourism product and service. Attention will be given to maintaining satisfactory gender balance in existing and future programmes and particular attention will be given to encouraging and facilitating recruitment of women and men to non-traditional areas of work and training.