Thirty-four teachers from 17 different countries graduated today from a special programme aimed at supporting immigrants who are qualified teachers and who wish to work here.

Almost half of those who participated in the course have already secured work in Irish schools for the coming year.

The five-month course, run by the Marino Institute of Education, included work experience, interview skills, and information on the history and structure of the Irish education system.

Speaking at the graduation Minister for Education Joe McHugh said foreign teachers were bringing "a new dimension" to classrooms with a diversity of perspectives and expertise that would benefit children and the education system for years to come.

The teachers who participated in this course come from 17 different countries including EU countries, African countries, and South America.

They include both second level and primary school teachers, and they live in counties throughout the country.

Mayte Alvarez is originally from Spain but has been living here for the past 19 years. She has already secured a job teaching Spanish in a Dublin secondary school. Having worked in finance for the past number of years Mayte says she is "very excited" about returning to the classroom.

Speaking at the graduation Emer Nowlan of the Marino Institute of Education said the teachers were keen not to be narrowly categorised as "migrant teachers". She said they were a rich diverse mix with diverse skills and backgrounds. "Teaching experience is in essence the same worldwide", she said.

Between them the 34 teachers are qualified to teach a wide variety of subjects, including languages, history, science subjects, maths, and Home Economics.

A second programme will begin later this year. Applications open in September, and the course begins in November.