Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) hosted a stakeholder consultation meeting for the Department of Education and Skills on Wednesday last, April 17th.
The meeting sought the views of stakeholders on education policy with a particular focus on the areas of Social Inclusion and Special Education and was the final in a series of five regional forums with stakeholders in the education and skills sector.
The meeting was addressed by the Minister for Education Joe McHugh and Minister of State John Halligan and was moderated by Dr Richard Hayes, WIT’s Vice President for Strategy.
A wide range of stakeholders attended the event, from within and outside the South East, including those representing marginalised and disadvantaged populations, officers from a number of third-level institutions, representatives from the Education and Training Boards and many schools, community groups, student representatives, and many others.
The meeting enthusiastically responded to the Ministers’ invitation to comment on the success of current policy with regard to socially inclusive education and to offer concrete suggestions on how best to meet future challenges.
Opening the meeting, Dr Hayes said: “It is appropriate that we are engaged in this discussion here at WIT. The RTCs were founded with a strong mission in support of educational inclusion and social justice and we have retained that focus through our 50-year history. As we enter a new phase of our existence as a Technological University, that commitment will continue and indeed will be enhanced, for critical to the future missions of the TUs will be inclusivity and access. The new university will offer opportunities to all members of society to engage with higher education, ensuring higher education is available to all member of our increasingly diverse society as the path to greater inclusivity and consequently a more just and equal world for all.”
Speaking at the meeting Minister Halligan stated: “Education has the power to transform lives through the delivery of a quality learning experience that challenges every person to realise their potential, to raise their aspirations and to achieve their personal ambitions. We want to make our education and training system more flexible, innovative and responsive over the entire course of a person’s life and I am particularly delighted that this important event in Waterford was attended by so many key regional stakeholders.”
Said Minister McHugh: “Today’s forum represents an important opportunity for engagement with those at the heart of the special education and higher education sectors and also the area of educational disadvantage. This Government recognises the importance of inclusive education for all and I look forward to hearing from all stakeholders at today’s event on how we can continue to meet the needs of these vital areas in education.”