Labour is investing in education for our future

04 October 2017

Labour Party spokesperson for Education, Senator Aodhán Ó Ríordáin has said that Labour’s Alternative Education budget will tackle back to school costs for families and support those who educate our young people.

Speaking at the Labour Party Alternative Budget launch, Senator Ó Ríordáin said:

“Year on year the cost of sending children back to school is rising, with parents forgoing bills and cutting back on daily essentials in order to send their kids back to school. Parents pay too much for young children to go to school. We propose to substantially reduce the cost of education for parents.

“We propose increased funding to schools by €10 per child in 2018, increased to €20 per child for any school that agrees in writing to put an end to the practice of requesting voluntary contributions and other charges to parents.

“In the upcoming Budget, the Government must make moves to further reduce book costs for parents by doubling the funding for book rental schemes. Over recent years, funding of €5m per year was spent expanding the number of book rental schemes in primary schools. As a result, such schemes are now operating in 94% of schools, reducing book costs for parents by at least 80%. However, at second-level, only 65% of schools report having a book rental scheme, and books are much more expensive at this level. Labour has proposed a new three year scheme, at a cost of an additional €5m each year, to give funding to second-level schools to establish book rental schemes.

“In 2016, Labour delivered the first improvement to class sizes in a decade. In the worst of times we protected them, and when the economy improved we immediately reduced them.

“But the last Budget saw that progress grind to a halt, with the latest figures showing that Irish class sizes are still significantly higher than international norms.

“Labour has long argued that smaller class sizes give a teacher more time to spend with each child, and can have a particularly positive impact on young children, and those in disadvantaged communities.

“In our fully costed alternative Budget, we have put the cost of reducing primary school class sizes by one point this year at €5.5m, a mere drop in the ocean in overall education spend of around €9.6bn.

“So once again, we are calling on the Government to publish a roadmap outlining how it will fulfil its Programme for Government commitment to reducing class sizes.

“It is clear that at the moment free education is still an aspiration in this country. Parents are incurring too many hefty hidden back to school charges and the Government is doing little to ease the burdens parents face.”

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