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Education boards spent £202k on trips to 21 countries - The Irish News
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Education news

Education boards spent £202k on trips to 21 countries

Cash-strapped education boards spent more than £200,000 on trips to 21 different countries at a time of major budget cuts.

The United Arab Emirates, Ethiopia and US were among destinations across four continents visited in a four-year period.

Details of almost 70 trips emerged following a report by The Irish News last week that revealed teachers were sent multiple times to Belgium to discuss European studies.

It comes at a time when language classes for primary pupils have been cut, as have budgets for books, building work and school maintenance.

Savings of almost £200 million must be made across the education system in 2015/16, with around 500 teachers and 1,000 support staff set to leave.

A total of 69 overseas journeys between 2011/12 and 2014/15 were paid for by the five former boards, which this year merged into the single Education Authority (EA).

The total cost was £202,091.

Fifteen of the trips were to the US, with France and Poland the next most popular.

Trips ranged from conferences for teachers to exchange schemes for young people.

Union leaders have called for authorities to prioritise the front line as staffing and resources are slashed.

However, the Education Authority defended the spending, saying international experiences “enable educators to move young people into environments where identity, nationality, and religion are not necessarily seen as issues that cause division”.

“The most significant outcome of international experiences is that young people are better equipped to interact with others, maintain and manage new and challenging relationships,” it said in a statement.

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