EMA assurances sought

Sinn Fein's Colin Kelly looks over the questionnaires he will present DEL Minister Danny Kennedy on Monday
Sinn Fein's Colin Kelly looks over the questionnaires he will present DEL Minister Danny Kennedy on Monday

A Derry City councillor says assurances are needed on the future of the Educational Maintenance Allowance ( EMA) despite confirmation that it will not be scrapped.

Sinn Fein’s Colin Kelly says he welcomes Department of Employment and Learning (DEL) Minister Danny Kennedy’s pledge not to abolish the scheme - which provides financial support for students aged 16-19 - but says the minister must reveal what form the allowance will now take.

“I welcome the fact that DEL Minister Danny Kennedy has stated on the back of a question from Sinn Féin that he will not be abolishing the Education Maintenance Allowance(EMA). But the Minister didn’t give any further details on what his full plans were for the allowance.

Mr Kelly’s comments come ahead of a meeting at Stormont next week at which he and Derry MLA Martina Anderson will present hundreds of questionnaires from local students giving their views on EMA.

“A lot of students, parents and teachers in Derry are very worried about the impact any cuts to the scheme would have on students being able to afford to stay on at school. Ahead of Monday’s meeting I felt it was important to get the views of students in Derry and ensuring those views reached the Ministers desk. I was very encouraged by the response from local schools and students in returning hundreds of completed questionnaires on the future of the EMA.

“There are several elements to this allowance and we will be asking the Minister to clarify his future plans for the scheme and will there be any changes to its current form,” he said.