A Galway school has come up with a novel initiative to finance a much-needed teacher.
Inis Meain National School, its teacher, and the community have succeeded in sourcing Zurich Insurance to fund a second teacher for their only island school.
This unusual step was forced upon the Inis Meain community due to the fact that pupils of the school were due to return to class on September 1 to just one working teacher, with the Department of Education failing to install a second teacher for the coming year.
The issue was raised in the Seanad in July by Senator Healy Eames, who calld on the Minister for Education to provide two teachers for the school. The motion was defeated by 18 votes to 13. However, Inis Meain NS has successfully secured funding from Zurich Insurance to pay for a full time teacher for the next two years. Speaking after the news was announced, Senator Eames was heavily critical of the Government's handling of the issue."This is a phenomenal achievement against the odds," Eames said. "Once again it has revealed the lack of commitment by An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, and this Government to the Irish language and the west of Ireland. The Government's abandonment of Inis Meain's immediate and urgent need for a second teacher on September 1 showed that it was prepared to hang the island out to dry.
"I am deeply impressed by the vision and action of the Inis Meain community to save their island in spite of all the obstacles they faced. The belief Zurich Insurance has shown in Inis Meain makes them a real champion of communities. They are an example for other companies to model themselves on, and I applaud this corporate social responsibility.