Fine Gael ignorant to issues around free education

14 January 2019

Labour Party Education spokesperson, Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, has said Minister Regina Doherty’s interview in today’s Irish Times shows how ignorant her Party are to the realities of providing truly free education.

Senator Ó Ríordáin said:

“The lack awareness by Minister Doherty on the provision of school books in this country is embarrassing. Minister Doherty seems to be under the impression that many children get school books for free, while other families have to pay.

“You would be hard pressed to find a family with children attending primary school that don’t pay for their school books in some form. The Barnardos Back to School 2018 survey found the average cost of books in primary school in 2018 is €95 and in secondary school is €220;

“Over the last three years Fine Gael have had the 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, this year Fine Gael 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.

“Parents shouldn’t be forced to pick up the tab for the failure of the Government to fund the actual costs of educating our children. Even in schools where parents have access to a book rental scheme, it still requires a payment of around €50 a year for an essential part of children’s education.

“Labour’s proposal is simple; a free school books scheme should be extended to all primary schools and in two years’ time roll it out in secondary schools. The initial roll out of this scheme would cost €20 million.”


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