The Cork Life Centre is poised to receive significant additional funding and teaching support, in a move which the centre’s director has described as a “breakthrough” that will make the facility “sustainable”.
The Centre offers an alternative learning environment to young people aged between 12 and 18 who find themselves outside the mainstream education system.
Its director, Don O’Leary has campaigned for more financial support for the facility.
The Taoiseach has now revealed that additional funding and teaching support is to be provided to the centre, with 12 new posts being created there this September.
Speaking to the Echo, Michéal Martin said: “The Department is sanctioning an additional €100,000 to the centre. This is in addition to the €77,500 issued on an annual basis from the Department. More critical in relation to teaching supports, the centre has agreed on a new governance relationship with the CETB [Cork Education and Training Board] and they will now commence a process that will facilitate the provision of additional teaching supports to Cork Life Centre. This is equivalent to 12 posts from this September on.”
The Taoiseach also said that the Department of Education is currently finalising a report on out of school provision which will inform future policy in the area.
“This report will inform how best the Department can support the provision of education for pupils who disengage from mainstream education. The whole objective of the report is to ensure that new pathways can be created for young people who for one reason or another are out of the mainstream education system.
“The Department acknowledges that the Cork Life Centre has been very successful in providing out of school education for some years. The report will consider a sustainable model in the future. They are interested in working with the Cork Life Centre to pilot new approaches in this regard in due course,” he added.
Mr Martin spoke highly of the work being undertaken by the Centre and its director.
“This is great news for Cork Life Centre. They are doing great work. The situation has been uncertain in terms of future support so I have been working with the Minister for Education to give a sustained underpinning to the situation. The Department and the Minister for Education appreciate the great work the Cork Life Centre has been doing since its inception and the support provided to many young people,” he said.
“I want to pay tribute to Don for his hard work. It is gratifying for him to know that there is a sustainable future for the centre and it is now being underpinned by the Department,” he added.
Speaking to the Echo, Mr O’Leary said he was thrilled with the additional measures announced for Cork Life Centre.
“It is very exciting news. For years we were never sure of money and I had to go everywhere looking for it.
“It gives support and acknowledgement to the students who have gone through the centre and have remained in education. They are now getting parity of esteem which is massive for us and them. I am over the moon. It gives us the continuity and confidence that everyone needs in their lives,” he said.
Mr O’Leary said the news is the ‘icing on the cake’ for their anniversary celebrations.
“We are celebrating our 20th anniversary this year and this is fantastic news."