Wexford TD John Browne has expressed his concern and disappointment at the Government’s decision to cut the Meitheal programme in schools in the county. The scheme operates in 21 schools, and was rolled out following a successful pilot programme in New Ross CBS in 1997.
“I am extremely disappointed with the Education Minister’s refusal to reinstate funds to secure the future of the Meitheal programme to secondary school students in Wexford. It’s been running successfully in 21 schools across the county for more than a decade, providing reassurance and support to students making the transition from primary to secondary school. The scheme sees senior students trained in personal development, identity, self-esteem, communication, listening and assertiveness skills in order to become leaders. After their training, each leader is made responsible for a group of first years to ensure their smooth transition into secondary school”, commented Deputy Browne.
“This is a very worthwhile scheme and only costs the Government €40,000 a year to maintain in Wexford. I have received letters from Meitheal leaders and teachers expressing their concern that the funding has been withdrawn. There has been a lot of media coverage in recent years about bullying and the impact it has on teenagers. Principals have told me that the Meitheal scheme has led to a reduction in bullying and added to the well-being of students in their schools.
“The Meitheal programme was first allocated funding in 2001 by then Education Minister Mary Hanafin. All successive Ministers continued to make money available to keep this project operational. However, Ruairi Quinn has decided to attack this valued resource by scrapping the funding. It’s the latest mean spirited cut introduced by this Minister. €40,000 is a paltry amount to ensure the well-being and confidence of our children. Compare that to the tens of millions of euros that are being squandered on outside consultants and advisors for State quangos.
“I would urge Minister Quinn to reconsider his decision to abolish the funding for this important programme. So much of the work is done on a voluntary basis by teachers and Meitheal leaders outside of school hours in order to make a success out of the project. It will be a great shame if the Minister allows the scheme to be wound down. I am very disappointed by his negative attitude towards the funding and am calling on him to find a way to secure the future of this programme”, he concluded.