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Adult education tutors to protest over employment terms

Adult education tutors are to protest outside Leinster House today as part of their campaign to be given the same terms and conditions as teachers who work in further education.

The tutors, who are employed by Education and Training Boards, are currently paid by the hour and have to sign on for social welfare payments during the summer and other holiday periods.

They say a public service contract they were offered last May does not go far enough in terms of meeting their demand for parity of treatment.

That proposal would see a new grade of adult educator created, with a standardised pay scale aligned with that paid to teachers who work in the Youthreach system.

Today’s protest is being held by the Adult Education Teachers Organisation. There are an estimated 3,000 adult education tutors working across the country.

“We teach the same as any other teacher, but we don’t get the same recognition,” Anne Foster whose students are adults returning to education in Dublin’s north inner city, told RTÉ News.

While the people she teaches come from a wide variety of backgrounds, Anne says many will have left school at an early age and some will have had very negative experiences of the education system.

‘I’m paid only for the contact hours when I’m standing in the classroom,’ says Anne Foster

They have returned to education in order to acquire the digital skills they need in order to be able to function in society or to upskill to re-enter the workforce or go on to further study.

“I’m paid only for the contact hours when I’m standing in the classroom. The rest of my work, the planning, generating my own materials, is not recognised anywhere,” she told RTÉ News.

“We are passionate about the people we teach, but we have to feed our families and pay our bills.

“We are public servants, delivering recognised qualifications under the QQI framework. Others teaching at the exact same level will get a full pension, but we don’t,” she said.

The Department of Further and Higher Education has said the offer it made last year would allow for incremental progression and a career path for tutors.

In a statement, the department said the implementation of the proposal has been the subject of further negotiations with staff representatives.

It said it and the Department of Education, which has regulatory responsibility for the ETB sector currently, had recently submitted an updated proposal to the Department of Public Expenditure, National Development Plan Delivery and Reform.

“Officials are engaging on the updated proposal, and it is hoped to conclude this matter at the earliest opportunity,” the statement concluded.

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