Education left behind in Budget 2019
Labour Education spokesperson Aodhán Ó Ríordáin has criticised the failure of FG and FF to commit to investing in education. There is only an additional €119m in new funding or less than 1% out of a Budget of over €10bn.
Senator Ó Ríordáin said:
“This is a deeply disappointing Budget for Education. The Fine Gael Government supported by Fianna Fáil has failed to invest to make education truly free.
“The Budget figures show that when you strip out the increases for demographics, pay agreements and the already announced capital plan, there is only an extra €119 million of extra resources for education. Across a €10.7bn budget that is less than a 1% increase. This makes a mockery of the Minister’s claims of a 6.7% increase in funding, as the extra money was already allocated to hire more teachers and support staff to cover a growing population.
“The 5% increase in capitation won’t kick in until late 2019 and won’t make any difference to the running costs of schools. It is worth about €8.50 per pupil in primary schools, and won’t make any impact to prevent schools having to ask for voluntary contributions next year. The Minister has kicked the can down the road again.
“There is no additional funding to reduce the pupil teacher ratio at primary or secondary level as Labour has proposed.
“Nor is there any extra funding to deliver a genuinely free school books scheme for all children that would have cost €40 million.
“At higher level, the Government appears to be not listening. It has failed to increase the funding for student grants, or reduce the student contribution in any way. Instead there is a rake of measures for employers.
“This was an opportunity to radically reduce the costs parents must foot for educating their children, and ensure all our young people can progress with their education. Unfortunately, they decided to put nearly €300 million into tax cuts. If this funding was put into education we could have started on the path to free education.”