As we are on the road with the judging for the National Enterprise Town Awards, we are picking up interesting stories from local business people. Today we are going back to Moynalty in Co Meath.
Celine Govern is heavily involved in the community in the small village of Moynalty in Co Meath. She spoke with immense passion and pride when discussing her area at the judging for the 2019 National Enterprise Town Awards, and she also has an interesting background in education and business. Here is Celine’s story:
I am a secondary school teacher, I have a masters in secondary school education and I am halfway through a PhD in education. I also have all the early childhood education qualifications. The only area of education I’m not involved in is primary. I don’t like to be pigeonholed. I think we’re making a huge mistake in Ireland by having the different forms of education as defined groups. There’s a massively important link between each form and they shouldn’t be defined separately. This year, I have taken a backstep to do a degree in early childhood education. I’m constantly studying!
On top of my day job as a teacher, I also own a preschool in Moynalty. From a business perspective, the challenges are pretty much the same as every other business. The only money I can make is the capitation that the government decide we are due. They decided that we get €69 per child each week and they only pay us for 38 weeks of the year. This means my staff have to sign-on during school holidays. But I’m so fortunate in that I don’t have a turnover of staff, but this is a massive challenge. I’m also very lucky that I own my premises – if I was renting I’d probably be closed by now.
“I think we’re making a huge mistake in Ireland by having the different forms of education as defined groups”
Training is another challenge for my business because they are constantly changing the goalposts. It started out as everyone had to have their level five qualification, then it changed to level six, and there’s no funding or support provided to get the qualifications. My staff have to do all of their training outside of school time and they don’t get paid to do it.
Importance of early education
Research has shown that the education children receive between the ages of three and five is the most valuable because it’s during those years where they learn the most. If you take Finland as an example, they know that early childhood education is key in relation to later outcomes in life. Children who receive a good early childhood education are more likely to go onto university, they’re less likely to have wellbeing and mental health issues, they will have more resilience and they will be more confident.
“I’m also very lucky that I own my premises – if I was renting I’d probably be closed by now”
Pride of place education
We place a massive onus on teaching the children in our preschool about our community. We’re three weeks into the new year and we have already touched on identity and the whole idea of where we belong. They’ve already made their Moynalty badges and we have made sure they have the word Moynalty in the vocabulary. When they came in on day one, most kids wouldn’t have known where they came from. We even have two children with us this year who don’t speak English and they can already say Moynalty.
By doing this, I am aiming to make them valuable members of the community in the future. We want them engaged and active members in our community. I hope that the children who are with me now in preschool will be apart of the local groups or will help on the day of the Steam Threshing. I think this is the only way to keep small rural communities thriving. My son is a prime example of this; every day when he was in primary school, he walked back and forth with a litter picker wearing a Moynalty Tidy Towns hi-vis jacket.
“Research has shown that the education children receive between the ages of three and five is the most valuable because it’s during those years where they learn the most”
It’s not just that I hope the village will gain from the younger members, but also for children’s wellbeing, that idea of belonging is so important. It’s not just what they can give to the community, its what they community can give back to them. If they grow up and leave Moynalty for college or work, they can always return, and it can be their safe place and they’ll know it’s where they belong. From teaching in secondary schools in Dublin, it’s easy to see they don’t have that. There’s a massive disconnection in bigger towns and cities and you might not even know who your neighbours are.
What makes Moynalty special?
From a historical point of view, and it goes right back to the Farrell family when we had catholic landlords and they allowed us to build the church up on a height in the village. If you look at a lot of catholic churches around Ireland, you’ll see they are built on low ground because they weren’t allowed to be higher than the protestant churches, but in Moynalty it is elevated. So culturally, we felt as a community that we were important and worthy. Another thing that I love about Moynalty is that everyone is supportive of business in the community. We all support our local businesses.
Written by Stephen Larkin
Published: 13 September, 2019