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Trainee Teachers frustrated Over €650 Fee for Virtual Gaeltacht Experience

“2 weeks of content delivered online for the first time by Gaeltacht colleges, no venue, no accom. – €650”

Photo © Oliver Dixon (cc-by-sa/2.0)

Primary school teachers in training are being asked to pay €650 for a ‘virtual Gaeltacht’ taking place online as part of their mandatory training course, and rightly so, they are outraged.

All trainee teachers are expected to complete a period in an Irish environment for two weeks. Pre pandemic, the course cost €750, but of course, it included food, boarding, and language lessons and activities in an immersive Irish-speaking area.

Now, with the authentic Gaeltacht experience out of the window, the student teachers of Hibernia college would be participating in a virtual Gaeltacht, fully online and from their own homes due to Covid-19 restrictions, and would still have to pay €650.

Following this, the students have written to the Department of Education, to protest the cost of the course.

In an email addressed to Ministers Simon Harris, Norma Foley, and Catherine Martin, Tracy Hayden, the author of the petition has stated: “As students undertaking initial teacher training, we, like the thousands of teachers before us, must complete an immersive Gaeltacht course to comply with Teaching Council requirements.”

Hayden goes on to mention how exorbitant the cost of the course is given the course provider now will not have to incur the cost of food, lodgings, and room rental generally associated with the Gaeltacht experience.

Hibernia College founder and president Dr. Sean Rowland said that the college had also addressed the government to have the prices waived or covered by a grant.

“In early January, it was brought to our attention that the proposed fee for the two-week online program would be in the region of €650 and that all students from State colleges would receive a re-instated student grant to cover this cost,” he said.

“We were acutely aware that this fee would cause huge stress and anxiety for many students and their families and we have consistently lobbied the Department of Education since last November asking for consideration for the grant for our students.”

At the time of writing, over 7000 people have signed the petition to help the trainee teachers resolve the issue.

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