Address by Minister of State for Overseas Development, Mr. Peter Power T.D, PENR3L /PASCAL Conference University of Limerick, 30 May 2008
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
Thank you for inviting me to address this important conference on learning and regeneration.
I would like to extend a warm Limerick welcome to all participants and speakers, especially those who have travelled from abroad to participate.
As many of you will be aware, this city is the new home of Irish Aid. Irish Aid is Ireland’s official overseas aid programme.
Over the coming months, Irish Aid will complete the process of
decentralisation to Limerick. With this move, we have strengthened
our ties with many Limerick institutions, not least with the
University of Limerick.
There is a strong interest in this city in issues of global development and human rights. I was hugely impressed by the number of Irish Aid-supported events that took place last week in the city to mark this year’s Africa Day.
This morning I would like to talk to you about the valuable role which development education plays in Ireland and why we place such an emphasis on it in the Irish Aid programme.
I will also talk to you about our work with Ireland’s Higher Education institutions, in pursuit of our development goals and finally to touch on the regeneration of areas of this city.
Ireland’s overseas aid programme has grown considerably over the last decade.
In 1998 we spent €177 million on our aid programme. This year the figure will reach €914m.
By 2012 we are likely to commit up to €1.4 billion a year as we meet our Millennium Development target of spending 0.7% of GNP on overseas aid.
While the programme has grown in size, it is also fair to say that it has maintained its core values.
Ireland’s aid remains 100% untied and focussed on supporting development in the world’s least developed countries, many of them in sub-Saharan Africa.
We work in partnership with the governments and communities of
these countries to achieve lasting progress.
The quality and effectiveness of the Irish Aid programme was noted last month by the Centre for Global Development, a US think-tank. The centre’s Commitment to Development Index for Africa, which rates rich countries on their policies to help the continent, ranked Ireland second, behind Sweden, in a list of 21 states.
We will maintain these core values as the programme expands.
As we move towards the 0.7% target, I believe that it is very important that all members of our society have an opportunity to deepen their understanding of development issues and why Ireland is dedicating increased resources to tackling global poverty.
Development education will play a key role in this objective.
Support for development education is a central part of the Irish
This support is provided to universities, schools, NGOs and civil society groups throughout the country.
Last year, Irish Aid launched a new five year Development Education Strategy, ’Promoting Public Engagement for Development’.
The strategy reiterates our commitment to development education.
It outlines how we intend to bring development education to as wide an audience as possible.
Central to this effort will be increasing the provision of high-quality programmes to teachers and others involved in development education.
We will continue to support the work of higher education institutions and development education organisations in their efforts to bring development issues into the classrooms and lecture halls of Ireland.
We will enhance our direct links with schools and colleges to enable them to deliver development education to their students.
Equipping our educators, be it in formal or non-formal education, with the skills, resources and confidence to deliver curricula and programmes through the lens of development education is critically important.
Through this work, we hope to make global and development issues part and parcel of an Irish education.
This work is important, not just in the context of the next few years, but also in the long term.
Development education should nurture a life-long interest and curiosity for issues of global development.
Education plays a crucial role in combating poverty, be it in
Ireland or in the developing world.
In an increasingly connected world we have a duty to equip learners with the tools and competencies to understand the interconnectedness between us in Ireland, in Europe and the developing world.
It is often those at the margins of society who feel the negative effects of globalisation first.
Yet through education and support learners can be enabled to challenge the systems that pervade poverty and tackle global development challenges more broadly.
I am particularly encouraged by the number of community and adult education projects under way in deprived parts of this country that have incorporated a global development perspective in their work.
There is clearly a need for a wide range of creative approaches to
The University of Limerick has shown great foresight in this area and is host to the Ubuntu Network which supports teacher educators at third level institutions across Ireland.
The theme of today’s conference, Education in Regional Regeneration, reflects the key development challenges we face - building a world in which every person has a future free of poverty and full of opportunity.
A key principle of Irish Aid is that developing countries need to be supported in finding local solutions to their unique development problems and issues, in the same way we had to find solutions to our own problems.
Higher education institutions clearly have a pivotal role to play in research on issues that can accelerate social and economic progress.
Recognising this potential, last year Irish Aid launched a programme of capacity building and research that will benefit higher education institutions in our partner countries.
This programme of Strategic Cooperation with Higher Education and Research Institutes has already resulted in a stronger engagement with the third level sector in pursuit of our goal of poverty reduction in our partner countries.
Grants have been awarded to higher education institutes across Ireland, including the University of Limerick, enabling them to build links with universities in developing countries.
I would like to briefly touch on the regeneration of certain parts of this city. While most of Limerick has enjoyed the benefits of economic progress over the last number of years there are some areas that have not seen the same level of development.
In 2006 this Government started an initiative aimed at addressing social exclusion, crime, and disorder issues in parts of this city.
Central to this initiative is a strong emphasis on the social elements of regeneration, through clear strategies, particularly in the area of education.
Many of the themes that you will discuss at this conference will be crucial to the regeneration efforts of marginalised communities in Limerick and further a field.
Themes such as lifelong learning strategies and support for partnerships at local, regional, national and international levels stand out.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I would like to finish by thanking Professor Don Barry, President of the University of Limerick for his support for this conference and Dermot Coughlan, Director of Adult and Continuing Education for being such a generous host.
Finally, I would like to wish you every success with the conference programme – you certainly have an impressive number of papers and abstracts to get through! I look forward to hearing about the outcomes of your discussions.