Sligo Fianna Fáil Senator Marc Mac Sharry has slammed proposals to close St Angela’s teacher training college in Sligo.
It comes after the Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn backed an expert report that recommends the merging of St Angela’s with NUIG. This will result in the removal of St Angela’s students, staff and facilities from Sligo to Galway.
“This is a retrograde step that flies in the face of efforts to centralise specialist teacher training,” said Senator Mac Sharry.
“St Angela’s is the State’s centre of excellence for training home economics teachers. Its proven track record is internationally recognised. The college consistently attracts the highest calibre of student and produces teaching graduates to rival the best the world can offer.
“It is no coincidence that 100% of their graduates gain employment and this year. New student numbers this year increased this year in line with demand from the sector. Such is the recognition of the college’s prowess in home economics teacher training, that it hosted the international conference for the Home Economics Federation in 2010. Approximately €11 million has been spent in recent times on making this a first-rate training facility. And it has paid off; the results speak for themselves.
“I agree with the benefits of transforming our institutes of education to create a more integrated, and specialised teacher training sector in line with the finish model. But this can best be achieved by maintaining the St Angela’s centre of expertise. To close a campus that has already become a centre of excellence flies in the face of the overall aim of this plan.
“In addition to this, there are significant economic and social implications of shutting down the Sligo campus. It would cost the state many millions to provide the necessary specialist infrastructure at NUIG. Also, St Angela’s is the only NUI campus north of the Dublin-Galway line. Its closure will further marginalise the North West, at a time when the region has already been forced to bare more than its fair share of cuts to local services.
“I would ask the Education Minister Ruairí Quinn to think very carefully before making a decision that could have major consequences, not only for the students and staff of St Angela’s, but also for the North West region and the overall reputation of teacher training in Ireland. What we have at St Angela’s is working. Why would Minister Quinn want to undo all this great work?”