The Education Maintenance Allowance, or EMA as its better known, is a payment of up to £30 per week which is paid to learners from lower income families. And provides them with the opportunity to further their studies.
It has recently been abolished in England, reformed in Scotland and Wales and has been the subject of a review here.
In February 2011 I met the Minster for the Department for Employment and Learning (DEL) Danny Kennedy as I felt it was important that the views of students in Derry on the issue reached the Minister’s 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. Without these payments, many young people in Derry would find it unaffordable to remain in full-time education and would be forced to seek work rather than completing their studies. In an area like Derry, this is further compounded by the lack of job opportunities, particularly for young people.
I would encourage anyone who has views on EMA to respond to the public consultation being carried out by the DEL before its closes on 2nd November.
Sinn Féin Councillor Colly Kelly