THE Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) could ensure young people remain in education and must be retained according to one Fermanagh student.
Jillian Ellis is an Upper 6th pupil at the Collegiate Grammar School, Enniskillen and is part of a local campaign to prevent cuts to this vital student resource.
As part of a youth campaign for jobs and education, Jillian is determined to fight to keep the EMA. A recipient herself of the £30 per week allowance, she is concerned the effect it could have if it were taken away.
“One third of students said they wouldn’t be able to continue in education without it. So, obviously that’s quite a big deal, especially with university fees at the minute, so it is something I’m passionate about.”
She then revealed she and fellow objectors would be staging a protest at the Diamond, Enniskillen on Saturday, March 9, at lunch time.
Jillian said the system gave young people, a ‘monetary awareness’.
“It is immense, I use it all the time, just for food and stuff when I’m out in town and for transport and everything.
“If it is cut, I just don’t know what will happen, to be honest”, he stated.
“ I think that it would just make things more difficult. It’s not for myself. I know other people who use it for their clothes and food every day, so it’s quite a big thing for a lot of people.”
Jillian points to the situation in England where numbers staying on in education dropped dramatically after EMA was cut.
However, given a growing interest in Fermanagh from pupils across all the schools, she remains hopeful there is still time to prevent the cuts.
“It’s not about politics or what school you go to, it is just everyone. We have managed to generate a lot of support on Facebook. and it seems to be an issue a lot of young of people think is important.”
A meeting last Wednesday in the Clinton Centre had an encouraging turnout, she said.
“I think the main thing is just to get rid of the cuts. It’s only the £10 and £20 they’re cutting now, but, they’re going to come back with cutting the £30.
“So I think just to have the proposed cuts stopped completely would be our goal.”
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