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Thu., Apr 19, 2018
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Minister Finian McGrath Recognises Disability Studies in St Angela's College.

Minister Finian McGrath Recognises Disability Studies in St Angela's College.

Minister Finian McGrath (Minister of State for Disability Issues) visited St Angela’s College on Monday 12th February 2018, Dr Anne Taheny President of St Angela’s College welcomed him to the College. The Minister addressed a full lecture theatre of disabled people, students and ex-students, staff and people who work in the sector. He characterised his work as being the “civil rights battle of 2018” and commented on the similarity of vision among the Disability Teams in St Angela’s.

The Minister, in his keynote address complimented the academic team on promoting the vision of Disability Inclusion, which is “that disabled people will be Visible, Empowered and Participating”. It was apparent to him that the programmes delivered in the College support this vision. Minister McGrath stated that programmes at St Angela’s offer transformational education, which will ensure that the required changes in attitudes and culture occur within the disability sector. He also stated that “the Disability Studies programmes provided in St Angela’s College were bringing Ireland into the 21st Century” in terms of inclusion.

Cllr Mare Casserly commented also, saying that “it was great that the Minister recognised the work done in St Angela’s so far and complimented the College on being so centrally involved in Disability Studies Education. This was a great achievement for a regional college”.

Susan Carton, Programme Director of Disability Studies stated that “St Angela’s College has been pioneering the work in this area, and are passionate and motivated to drive this initiative and have developed the expertise and networks to succeed. The incorporation with NUIG strengthens this capacity, with links to the College of Arts, Social Sciences and Celtic Studies, the Centre for Disability Law and Policy and the College of Medicine, Nursing & Health Sciences. It now requires that access to 3rd level education in full- time, part- time and online programmes is properly funded.”  This was also supported by the President of St Angela’s College, Dr Anne Taheny, who told the audience that Disability Studies is key in St Angela’s. Peter Kearns (Disability Equality Specialist Support Agency) stated the importance of creating opportunities for all those working in the area of disability to undertake individual modules or courses that St Angela’s provides, as a part of their continuing professional development. He also recommended that the Minister provides funding for this initiative where necessary.

Ursula Gilrane Programme Director, outlined that St Angela’s College has provided the Bachelor in Nursing Science (Intellectual Disability) degree programmes since 1988. Graduates are equipped to provide person-centred, evidence based support to meet the life, health and social needs of people with an intellectual disability. Minister McGrath recognised that there was capacity to increase the numbers of students on this course, to support current disability policy.  

The College also provides a Certificate in Life Skills Studies. Carmel Jennings, Course Coordinator, explained that this course is an opportunity for persons with an intellectual disability to experience college life.  For the students and staff of the College it has been a privilege to share the campus with such enthusiastic students. This development reiterates St. Angela’s College commitment to inclusive education. Many of the students met the Minister and commented on their courses. The College would like to further this initiative by offering an internship module that would support graduates to realise their employment ambitions and bring them to the world of work.

Dolores McDonagh, Director of the Centre for Special Educational Needs, Inclusion and Diversity, outlined the programmes offered within the College, to professionals such as teachers and Special Education Needs Assistants (SNA) working with children. Dolores asked the Minister to continue to fund programmes at Postgraduate Level and restore funding for the training of Special Needs Assistants.

Dr Edel Mc Sharry, Head of Department of Nursing, Health Sciences and Disability Studies, thanked the Minister for coming to St Angela’s and summarised the four key areas for development which will enable St Angela’s College to support the vision of the National Disability Inclusion Strategy. They are; the funding of Disability Equality Studies courses, funding for work placement-internship on the Certificate in Life Skills Course, the continuation of funding for programmes at Postgraduate Level, the restoration of funding for the training of SNAs and the increase the Department of Education’s allocation of Bachelor of Nursing Science (Intellectual Disability) numbers on this course.

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