Education taking a back seat in Budget 2018

09 October 2017

With less than 24 hours to go to Budget 2018, Labour Party spokesperson for Education, Senator Aodhán Ó Ríordáin has said that the lack of discussion on education funding highlights the failure of Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil to make investment in our children’s future a priority. Labour’s Alternative Education budget proposals outlined a fully costed plan to reduce back to school costs for families and support those who educate our young people.

Senator Ó Ríordáin said:

“While Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil argue over what type of tax cuts they would most prefer tomorrow, there has been precious little focus on the need for increased investment in education.

“It is disappointing that Fianna Fáil have demanded many measures but once again have failed to make education a priority, relegating it to the back seat of Budget discussions.

“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.

“Labour proposed 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 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.

“For the second year in a row, Labour in our Alternative Budget provided for the reduction in class sizes in primary and secondary schools.

“But the last Budget under FF and FG 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.

“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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