Tuesday, 19 April 2011
Dáil Éireann Debate
274. Deputy Noel Harrington asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food his plans to introduce distance learning programmes for students who are attending agricultural colleges on part-time courses (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8321/11]
Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Deputy Simon Coveney): Under the Agriculture, (Research, Training and Advice) Act, 1988, Teagasc has statutory responsibility for the provision of education, research and advisory services to the Agriculture sector. It is a matter for Teagasc and its Board to prioritise activities in the delivery of these services and to allocate its resources in accordance with these priorities. Teagasc has earned a well-deserved reputation for delivering high-quality and relevant education programmes for people with aspirations of a career in agriculture or those seeking employment in ancillary industries. Courses are available in farming, horticulture, equine and forestry throughout the extensive network of Teagasc agricultural colleges, regional education centres and local centres.
The question of distance learning programmes for students attending agricultural colleges on a part time basis is a matter for Teagasc. I understand from Teagasc that students on the mainland can complete the Advanced Certificate in Agriculture online. Because of the practical nature of the training and the need for skills assessment, this programme involves attendance at the Agricultural College/Regional Education Centre for twelve days approximately. Members of island farming families are similarly eligible to complete this programme in the very same way as those from the mainland. The combination of online learning and face to face learning is recognised as an excellent teaching methodology.
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