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Education budget must be protected – Deputy Jonathan O’Brien

19 September, 2012 - by Jonathan O'Brien TD


Sinn Féin’s education spokesperson, Jonathan O’Brien, TD, speaking after today’s budget briefing by education minister, Ruairí Quinn has said there is a collective responsibility on the government to ensure the retention of key frontline services that have been badly affected by a succession of cuts.

The Cork North Central TD was speaking after Wednesday’s Oireachtas Education Committee meeting, where he acknowledged the difficulties and challenges faced by Minister Quinn but questioned the logic of taking a further €77 million out of education in the 2013 budget.

“A priority for Sinn Féin,” he said, “is the protection of the most vulnerable children within the Irish education sector and there is an onus on Minister Quinn and his Government colleagues to do likewise. If our education system is underfunded then it fails to meet the needs of children, particularly those from marginalised backgrounds. This has wider implications for Irish society leading to a greater dependency on social welfare benefits and higher rates of recidivism.

“I welcome the Minister’s commitment to re-exam the impact of cuts to the school transport scheme and his acknowledgement that a reduction in the school capitation grant had placed an additional financial burden on many parents. There is an opportunity that with the implementation of the Training Boards Bill, a more flexible system can be introduced so that Boards of Management can have a greater say in the way money is used to fund the running and maintenance of schools.

“I also hope that when the review of private fee paying schools is finished, that the Department looks at the estimated€100 million that is presently being spent on State subsidises to these schools. This is a complex issue and Sinn Féin supports the rights’ of parents to pay for their child to attend a private school but the burden being placed on taxpayers, at a time when a range of other essential services are being cut, is no longer viable nor acceptable.

“The Minister needs to reassess the important role played by Special Needs Assistants within the classroom so that all of their time is spent supporting children. He has also given assurances that there will be further changes to the pupil teacher ratios of 1, 2, 3 and 4 teacher schools on the back of what was announced last year so hopefully their long-term viability is not further eroded.

“This was a constructive meeting and I hope Minister Quinn will take the views of the committee back to his cabinet colleagues and ensure his budget is protected.”

Buiséad Oideachas le cosaint – Teachta Jonathan O’ Brien

Deir urlabhraí Oideachais Shinn Féin Jonathan O’ Brien, Teachta Dála, agus é ag caint inniu tar eis cruinniú faoi an mbuiséad oideachas a thug an tAire Oideachais Ruairí Quinn go bhfuil comhfhreagracht ar an rialtas chun a chinntiú go gcoimeádfaí na seirbhísí tosaigh is tábhachtaí ach go háirithe na cinn a déanadh scrios ortha leis na giorraithe ar fad.

Bhí an Teachta Dála as Corcaigh Thuaidh –Lár ag caint tar eis an cruinniú a bhí ag an Coiste Oideachas ar an gCéadaoin, thug sé le fios gur thuig sé na deacrachtaí agus dúshláin a bhí os coir an tAire Quinn ach cheistigh sé an loic maidir le €77 milliún eile a bhaint amach as an mbuiséad oideachas do 2013.

‘Prióireacht do Shinn Fein’, a deir sé, ‘is ea an cosaint ar na páistí is leochaileach laistigh don gcóras Oideachas Éireannach agus tá an tAire Quinn agus a chomhghleacaí rialtais freagrach dóibh siúd chomh maith. Múna bhfuil airgeadú mar is coir ar fáil dár gcóras oideachas, tá teip ar soláthar ar riachtanais leanaí, go hairithe iad siúd atá imeallaithe. Tá impleachtaí níos leithne ann do sochaí na hÉireann, ag cruthú agus ag cuir leis an gcultúr do dhaoine a bhíonn ag brath ar sochair leasa shóisialta.

‘Cuirim fáilte roimhe gealltanas an tAire chun áth- scrúdú a dhéanamh ar an éifeacht a bheidh ag na giorraithe ar an scéim córas iompar taisteal agus go bhfuil sé ag tabhairt aitheantas don breis buairt faoi an t-ualach airgeadas a bheidh ar mórán tuismitheoirí de bharr ísliú ar an deontas caipitíochta. Tá an deis ann leis an feidhmiú don bille Bord Traenála, córas a chuir I bhfeidhm a thabharfaidh níos mó cumhacht do na Boird Bainistíochta ins an bealach a n-úsáidtí airgead chun scoileanna a rith mar is cuí.

Tá súil agam chomh maith, nuair a bheidh athbhreithniú déanta ar scoileanna le táille príobháideach, go bhféachfaidh an Roinn ar an meastacháin do €100 milliún a tá á chaitheamh faoi láthair tré fóirdheonú Stáit ar na scoileanna seo. Is ceist casta é seo agus tá Sinn Féin ag tacú le cearta tuismitheoirí a gcuid leanaí a chuir go dtí scoil príobháideach ach tá an t-ualach a chuireann sé ar cáiníocóirí ag am go bhfuil giorraithe ar seirbhísí riachtanach do-ghlactha.

‘Caithfidh an tAire athbhreithniú a dhéanamh ar an ról tábhachtach atá ag Cúntóirí Riachtanais Speisialta laistigh don seomra ranga ionas gur féidir leo a gcuid ama ar fad a chaitheamh ag tacú leis an leanaí. Tá sé tar éis dearbhú chomh maith go mbeidh tuilleadh athruithe maidir leis an cóimheas idir scoláirí agus múinteoir 1,2 3 agus scoileanna le 4 mhúinteoir tar éis an méid a dúradh anuraidh, mar sin táimid ag súil nach mbeidh aon bac sa todhchaí ar na scoileanna seo.

‘Is cruinniú dearfach a bhí anseo agus tá súil agam go dtógfaidh an tAire Quinn an tuairimíocht seo ar ais chuig a chomhghleacaithe san comh-aireacht agus go gcinnteofar go mbeidh a bhuiséad slán agus cosanta.’

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