Budget is a missed opportunity to transform Education in Ireland
Budget 2021 is a missed opportunity to transform Education in Ireland according to Labour Education Spokesperson Aodhán Ó Ríordáin. Speaking after the announcement of Budget 2021, Deputy Ó Ríordáin said:
“While Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil have played political football with tax cuts this year, there has been precious little focus on the need for increased investment in education. 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 and the past two months have been really challenging for struggling families.
“Education should be actually free for all. This means free school books, ending voluntary contributions and radically funding education to make our class sizes the lowest in Europe. Instead, Ireland has some of the largest classes in Europe, and the lowest education funding in the OECD. The pandemic has highlighted once again that we have too many children in each classroom and the reduction of one announced in the budget simply will not go far enough. 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.
“While we welcome the announcement of special needs assistants and special education teachers, we need clarification from government on how many of these are to meet demographic demands rather than unmet need. Indeed the next Census in 2022 will provide important demographic information for future resource planning in our education system.
“There are measures within this Budget that are welcome, however on the whole Budget 2022 is a missed opportunity to genuinely transform education in this country. The Government should have gone much further to reduce the pupil teacher ration which is one of the highest in the OECD and there are no meaningful attempts to cut costs for struggling parents. This is the pandemic dividend the families of Ireland really wanted.”