'This facility is giving young people a fantastic education': Calls for increased funding for Cork Life Centre

'This facility is giving young people a fantastic education': Calls for increased funding for Cork Life Centre

The chairman of the Oireachtas Committee on Education has called for increased funding for the Cork Life Centre, and said the educational facility should receive the same recognition and model of funding afforded to secondary schools. Picture: Howard Crowdy

The chairman of the Oireachtas Committee on Education has called for increased funding for the Cork Life Centre, and said the educational facility should receive the same recognition and model of funding afforded to secondary schools.

“Having seen the work [Life Centre director] Don O’Leary and his staff do here, and having spoken with students, we are calling on for further funding,” Deputy Paul Kehoe (FG) said tthis week after a visit by committee members to the Northside centre.

“If a student is in the Life Centre, that is a saving for another school, and that money should follow the student to the Life Centre.” 

Mr Kehoe called on Education Minister Norma Foley to visit the Life Centre, and said the current model of funding, which annually sees the centre appealing to the Department of Education for year-to-year funding, was “not sustainable” and needs to change so the centre can plan for the future.

“We are all entitled to an education, and this facility is giving young people a fantastic education. Society is changing, and government departments need to reflect that change in their thinking,” Deputy Kehoe said.

Founded in 2000, the Cork Life Centre offers opportunities to students failed by conventional education, and currently caters for 55 students.

“This centre has given great opportunities to countless young people over the past 20 years, achieving fantastic successes, and we want to ensure it can continue for the next 20 years, and beyond,” Mr Kehoe said.

The Life Centre this year received €177,500 in funding from the Department of Education, a figure which included €100,000 secured by Cork North Central TD Páidraig O’Sullivan and Taoiseach Micheál Martin.

Life Centre director Don O’Leary said the committee members had seemed impressed by their meeting with staff and students, and he agreed with Mr Kehoe’s statement that money should follow the student.

Committee members visited the centre at the invitation of committee members Páidraig O’Sullivan TD and Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire, Cork South Central Sinn Fein TD.

Deputy O’Sullivan said he was grateful that committee members had visited the Life Centre, and said they were determined to ensure a sustainable funding model for the centre.

Deputy Ó Laoghaire said it was important that his colleagues had seen first-hand the value of the Life Centre, and he was confident the committee would support the centre in its negotiations with the Department of Education.

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