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Mater Dei Institute of Education launches strategic plan:
Religion, Education and the Arts:
Teaching and Learning in a Changing Ireland

20 October 2003

The Taoiseach, Mr Bertie Ahern td, visited the Mater Dei Institute today (Monday 20 October 2003) to launch the Institute's strategic plan. The plan, which sets out the goals for the college over the coming five years, tackles the issue of the role of a Catholic College of Education in an increasingly multicultural society.

Dr Dermot Lane, president of Mater Dei, asserted that the institute is in a unique position as a mediator between Irish Catholicism and Irish culture. "Mater Dei is an important site where Catholicism can negotiate openly with a plurality of other cultures, attitudes and systems of belief, and advocates the necessity of this negotiation by inviting people of all persuasions to participate in it." The plan aims to address the educational, social and cultural changes taking place in Ireland and to offer a way forward for the Institute as a college of education within the university sector.

In 1966 the Institute began by offering teacher education programmes and qualifications for teachers of religious education and humanities subjects. From the 1990s this was broadened to include programmes and qualifications for School Chaplaincy and Pastoral Care along with other postgraduate degrees. The Institute offers two distinct undergraduate degrees (Bachelor of Religious Education, and Bachelor of Arts in Irish Studies & Religious Studies) as well as a Bachelor of Theology taught jointly with Edgehill Theological College in Belfast. This degree is a unique cross-community, cross-border programme.

The Institute has witnessed a strong demand for its graduates. Looking to the future, it is expected that this demand will continue for at least two reasons: the decline in the number of Religious and Priests available and the introduction of Religious Education as an examination subject in second-level schools.

In relation to undergraduate programmes, the Institute will continue to focus on teacher education, Irish studies, inter-church and inter-faith dialogue. The Institute welcomed the introduction of the new Religious Education syllabus in second-level schools and is committed to promoting the ecumenical and cross-cultural dimensions of religious education.

The strategic plan predicts undergraduate numbers will increase to around 320 and postgraduate numbers will increase to over 200 students, including full-time research PhD students.

Mater Dei intends to expand the focus to include Adult Education. Broadening access to third-level and adult education is a central theme in the strategic plan. This will be achieved through developing new links and strengthening existing partnerships with schools and community groups in Dublin's north inner-city.

From a religious point of view the Institute will explicitly foster inter-church, inter-faith and cross-cultural dialogue. The need for chaplains/pastoral care providers is becoming more obvious in schools and other institutions. Mater Dei has been a pioneer in this area and will continue to address issues of growing social concern such as substance abuse, adolescent suicide, family breakdown and anti-social behaviour.

Over the coming five years, Mater Dei intends to build on its core strengths in Religion, Education, the Arts and culture. It will continue to offer postgraduate programmes-adopting a partnership approach with other institutions for some courses. It will provide continuing professional development to teachers, chaplains and others involved in pastoral care. The Institute also intends expanding its reach in the area of Lifelong Learning by focusing on e-learning and other Information Communication Technology. In the area of research, the strategic plan sets out a goal to establish a national centre, possibly with national and/or international strategic partners.

Mater Dei Institute of Education was founded in 1966 and in 1999 it became a College of Dublin City University. The Institute has close links with St Patrick's College of Education, another DCU linked college. For over thirty years the Institute has provided some 1,500 teachers and over 200 chaplains for second-level schools.

Ends

For further information:


Eilis O'Brien
DCU
700 5217
087 205 7125