For three years I've taught in the Cork Life Centre, an education centre for early school leavers based in Cork City. To say that this work is rewarding is more than an understatement. I enjoy working there and consider myself very lucky to have had the opportunity to do so.
The Life Centre was established in 2000, with two similar centres operating in Dublin and another in Belfast. The purpose of each of the centres is to provide an alternative source of education and support to young people for whom the mainstream education system did not work, for one reason or another.
No size fits all and no one system of education will suit everybody. Early school leavers endure a lot of negative stereotypes about the kind of people they are - troublemakers, dangerous, difficult to teach, good-for-nothings, and so on. I can say that without exception each and every one of the Centre's students defies and disproves these stereotypes ten times over.
From this year on, our trustees, the Christian Brothers, are no longer in a position to grant us the €90,000 per annum they have generously funded us with. Closure might seem inevitable, but to simply accept this would be to abandon the very reason the Centre exists in the first place.
We have begun a Save The Centre campaign, launching it on 30 April 2014 with an online petition for people to add their voice to the growing calls for the Department of Education and Skills to step in and provide for the Life Centres, institutions which are ensuring the academic and social education of young people the mainstream system was unable to accomodate.
As teachers, as students, and as parents, we can all already recognise that no one system is able to suit everyone. This is why subjects have different levels, why we have resource teaching, why schools offer different option subjects for students. The Life Centres are simply an extension of that recognition. I would be extremely grateful if you would sign this petition and share the story of the Life Centre.
Petition to Save the Cork Life Centre
Cork Life Centre Facebook Page
History of the Cork Life Centre (photo album)
Cork's Life Centre Faces up to Potential Closure - Irish Examiner (3 Jan 2014)