The Thurles man was speaking during Statements on Higher Education this evening, when he asked the Minister to give the proposal for a Home Economics teacher training course in Thurles the final piece of political support that it required to get it over the line. Deputy Cahill has also briefed Minister Norma Foley on this matter, highlighting the pressing need to train more teachers over the coming years to meet demand.
Last summer, Minister Simon Harris accepted Deputy Cahill’s invitation to visit his hometown of Thurles, where Deputy Cahill arranged for the Minister to meet with senior Mary Immaculate College management, including President Eugene Wall and the Head of the St Patrick’s Campus, Thurles, Dr Finn Ó Mhurchú. This followed an earlier Zoom meeting between the parties, also facilitated by Deputy Cahill.
Speaking in the Dáil this evening, Deputy Cahill said: “There is massive demand for Home Economics teachers in this country at the moment, with schools struggling to fill posts and the need to train more teachers obvious. Currently, the only four-year Home Economics teacher training course in the country is based in Co Sligo, and there is a clear opening for a second option in the Tipperary region.
Cahill made the point that Thurles is the prime location for a course of this kind, saying: “We have an amazing opportunity to establish Thurles as the educational hub of the midlands and mid-west, outside of the cities. We have the rail infrastructure. We have the road infrastructure. We have a reputation for top-class post-primary education in the town.
“Thurles also boasts the National Apprenticeship Centre in Archerstown, training close to 300 appetencies at any one time. And we have two university campuses in the town – Mary Immaculate and the Technological University Shannon.
Deputy Cahill then detailed the progress that has been made to secure the Home Economics course for Thurles, since the Minister’s visit to the campus last summer: “Tipperary ETB and Mary Immaculate Thurles have worked closely on this new course, and with your support, we believe we are in a position to offer Home Economics in September 2023 in Thurles.
“Most importantly, this major benefit to higher education in the region would come with little cost to the exchequer. Tipperary ETB can furnish the relevant resources, such as the kitchens needed, and Mary Immaculate in turn are anxious that Further Education students can continue to access their teacher preparation programmes through their PATH programme.
“Mary Immaculate Thurles currently have 475 students at undergraduate level studying to be post primary teachers in Gaeilge, Maths, Business, Religion and Accounting. The addition of Home Economics would consolidate their position on the educational landscape and meet a clear need in our educational system.
“Now, Minister, we need the final political will and push to make this a reality from September 2023. Minister, I am asking for this final political push to get this very welcomed boost to education in Thurles over the line. Let’s deliver a Home Economics teacher training course in Thurles for September 2023”, Cahill concluded.