Minister of State, Joseph Harmon, and his daughter Danielle Harmon-Klien, on Sunday, at their annual Children’s Christmas Party, feted over 400 children drawn from communities on the West Bank Demerara. The activity was held in the West Demerara Secondary School’s auditorium.The children, coming from the communities of Phoenix Park, Pouderoyen, Best Village, Vreed-en- Hoop and Malgre Tout, among other communities, were delighted to receive Christmas presents and goodies.This year marks the 12th year that Minister Harmon and his family have hosted the Christmas party for children living in the Essequibo Islands-West Demerara Region (Three). Every year since its inception, the Christmas Party has grown, and it consequently can no longer be kept at the Minister’s Phoenix Park home.The Minister of State believes in giving back to the community, and he said he remains committed to contributing in a tangible way to the development of youths.He said that as a member of Government, there are both personal and professional considerations for children and young people, and he noted that the APNU+AFC Government would continue to invest in youths.Mrs Harmon-Klien, who is based in the United States, has said she looks forward to spending time with the children each year.Ten-year-old Alisha Moideen of Best Village said she is happy to have been invited to the party. Two other children, Ms. Zaynab Providence and Ms. Badieh Williams of Phoenix Park, each thanked the Deputy Regional Executive Officer of Region Three, Mrs Jenifer Ferreira- Dougal, as well as other regional officials, for having them attend the Christmas party.
A Church of Ireland cleric and his Catholic counterpart in Donegal have joined forces to hold vigils outside schools on the day of the Referendum Treaty on May 31st next.Rev John Deane and Fr John Joe Duffy have organised the hour long vigils from 3 to 4pm in protest at education cuts.Both clerics say the message is simply and that the want the Government to “prioritise education investment now.” Rev Deane, from Ardara and Fr Duffy, from Arranmore Island, have stressed they are taking no part in the Referendum.“The objective would be to have a presence of parents, children, teachers and members of the general public, with placards outside the school gates reminding the government that they need to ‘Prioritise Education Investment Now’ and protect education, protect the future of our children.“No one should in any way interfere with or hinder anyone entering or leaving the polling stations. Everyone should exercise their democratic right to cast their vote,” said Fr Duffy.The clerics said the organising committee will be in contact with each school in Co. Donegal to set out the rules and regulations concerning the holding of a vigil on election day in proximity of a polling station. “We are asking each school to organise its own vigil. We ask the parents to take a very active role in organising this vigil.“We do appreciate everyone is very busy and we thank everyone for their help and time,” said Fr Duffy.The following is a statement issued by both clerics.“While we wish to welcome the Minister’s decision to retain 235 DEIS (Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools) programme posts at urban primary and secondary level, we regret his decision to cut the other 192 posts at primary and secondary level. Some are accusing the departments targeting of rural schools as apartheid. We can understand where they are coming from because the Minister reversed the teaching posts cuts in all urban primary schools which resulted in over 140 concessionary posts being saved while at the same time he continued to cut 16 rural concessionary posts the majority of them based in rural DEIS schools in Co. Donegal. Why has the Minister made a difference between rural and urban DEIS schools? What is the difference between urban and rural disadvantage?The appeals process has failed to deliver in Co. Donegal, where a minimum no of schools had success. Only 5 appeals have being successful. 20 appeals have being unsuccessful. Other appeals are still under consideration. Alot of schools dude to receive a post under the old staffing schedule did not appeal. Under the changes we will have lost up to at least 30 teaching posts across Co. Donegal. I has always stated that the criteria for grounds of appeal was not broad enough. That the appeals criteria was similar to that which had already existed for years. The Appeals process was hyped up by the government to try and defuse the anger of parents in the hope that parents would feel that everything was going to be ok for their schools. the Minister announced the overall results of the appeals before the department did publically, which was unusual. The cutbacks in the budget is an attempt to close rural schools by stealth. Many schools have different issues with the cutbacks in education. some have one or more issues. Each school will highlight their own issues on the day under the banner of a call on Minister Quinn and the Fg/Labour government to reverse the savage cutbacks that this government introduced.Some schools in our county have being waiting for new buildings for years.Some have lost SNAs.Some have lost learning support/resource hours. Some are affected by the change in pupil teacher ratios.Some are affected by the rural DEIS cuts.Some have lost other supports and resources.Some have lost language teachers.All schools have being cut in funds. Capitation funding, used to pay such things as heating and electricity is reduced by 3.5 %, from €183 to €178 per child per year.And our children have lost out most and will continue to lose much more into the future if we fail to send a strong message to the Minister and the Government. They have gone too far.There is no educational argument to back up the governments decision to change the pupil/teacher ratio for small schools which will result in their closure. Dr. Catherine Mulryan-Kyne, St, Patricks College, Drumcondra, in her research found that there is no advantage in closing or amalgamating small schools in terms of education or costs. She cited the UK as an example where the closure/amalgamation of small schools showed that the costs incurred through transport to bigger schools counterbalanced any cost cutting savings that were estimated from the closures. This will also led to extra cost for parents such as transport. Transport, new buildings of classrooms, schools and administration will be an extra cost to the taxpayer..We are going through a time of worry and anxiety about our rural schools. The future of many of our schools are threatened by savage cuts imposed by our government. Most worryingly is the new pupil/teacher ratio which is currently being imposed. Small two teacher schools are particularly at risk. Those of us who belong to rural DEIS, minority faith schools, gaeltacht and small schools feel especially vulnerable and upset due to the uncertainty facing our schools. Historically our cultural identity has been embedded in our communities. Our schools are so important to the life of our parishes and communities. It appears that our government and in particular the minister of education R. Quinn places little or no value on our ethos and our way of life. Since the foundation of the Irish National School system in 1831 parents have been given the choice of having their children educated within a denominational education system. The provision of such a choice for the education of ou!r children is valued and appreciated in our communities. Closure or amalgamation of our schools will in practice result in parents being denied their rights to send their children to a school of their choice. Therefore Faith minority schools will no longer have that choice over the next few years as the full impact of the present cutbacks are realised in terms of lost posts and schools.We have begun to work towards a National convention for rural schools early in the new school year. Senator Fidelma Healy Eames FG Galway, statement on her website sums up the serious situation that all rural schools and rural Ireland faces under Minister Quinns policy on rural schools.“The Minister for Education’s policy on small rural schools must show due consideration for rural communities. As it stands it is poorly thought out and detrimental to the survival of rural areas. Proceeding as Minister Quinn wants means there will be tracts of rural Ireland without young people in 10-15 years’ time. Without young people there is no future………..Minister Quinn’s policy shows a lack of joined-up thinking for, at best, short-term fiscal gain. Practical examples of small schools that will suffer cuts in remote areas of rural Ireland show new builds will be necessary for amalgamated schools. In other areas, displacing and moving rural pupils means extra classrooms will be needed in villages and sub-urban areas, while space continues to exist in their own rural schools. Children as young as four years of age will have to be bussed or driven long distances. The policy just doesn’t add up. There is a monetary cost and an educational cost to Minister Quinn’s decisions too which must be considered.”EndsDONEGAL CLERGY COME TOGETHER TO HOLD PROTEST VIGILS ON REFERENDUM POLLING DAY was last modified: May 18th, 2012 by StephenShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Tags:Fr John Joe DuffyRev John Deane