Photo credit: Fingal County Council

Teachers’ Union slams Simon Harris amid “tweets & TikToks”

The president of the Teachers Union of Ireland (TUI) has accused Higher Education Minister Simon Harris of leaving key promises “unfulfilled” despite his many “tweets and TikToks.”

The remarks were made on Tuesday at TUI’s annual congress by the group’s president Liz Farrell, who said that many higher education teachers “feel they have been left behind” and “professionally disrespected” under Harris’ tenure as Minister.

Claiming that the sector still lacked sufficient funding and struggled with recruitment and retention of teachers, Farrell said: “When you became the Minister, there was an air of genuine hope and expectation that finally, we had our knight in shining armour – a person at the helm who would champion the worthy and important cause of further education.”

She described Harris as “the Cinderella of the education system,” adding: “Unfortunately, Minister, despite the good intentions and promises, the tweets and the TikToks, much work remains to be done.”

Notably, Harris is known to be a prolific user of the Chinese social media site TikTok, posting frequently on the app since he joined in March of 2021 and accruing over 91,000 followers.

Farrell continued: “Many of the promises remain unfulfilled and those working in the sector still feel that they have been left behind, professionally disrespected, struggling to do what is right for all those who need their help.”

She added: “Funding must do justice to the sector – it must do justice to our professional practitioners and must do justice to our students.”

Harris replied that there is a need for “significant further investment for universities.”

“But there is also a requirement for reform,” he said.

“There is a requirement to change the way our third level system works. More and more of the university students are older than a school leaver, more likely to be in part-time or full-time employment and perhaps needs to access education in a part-time way.

“Yes, we do need to invest more in our universities but equally they need to work with us in terms of ensuring the future of the education system in Ireland particularly at third level, is more flexible and is more agile.”

At the same conference, TUI General Secretary Michael Gillespie also argued for more funding, saying that there was a “bone-headed, failed policy of successive governments” attempting to make the education system “do more and more, with less and less.”



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