Sinn Féin Education Spokesperson Jonathan O’Brien, TD, has said that the growing crisis facing primary schools is an inevitable consequence of cuts to essential frontline services.
The Cork North Central TD was responding to the findings of a survey published this week by the Catholic Primary School Management Association (CPSMA) which found that almost half of Irish primary schools are running a deficit and that 22% are just about breaking even.
“It is simply scandalous,” Deputy O’Brien said, “that primary school principals are being forced to tell the parents of children to wear extra cloths in order to keep warm in the classroom.
“This is an inevitable crisis which can in part be attributed to the reduction in the capitation grant and the suspension of the summer work’s scheme. In addition to these cuts is the mounting speculation that the Department of Education and Skills (DES) is to remove the minor work’s grant, due to be paid in December. This payment is particularly important for small schools as it includes a block payment of €5000 on top of the capitation payment and is essential for the day-to-day running of many schools.
“It is simply not good enough therefore, for the minister to describe the situation as unacceptable when he is ultimately responsible for what is happening and he needs to intervene directly and ensure this year’s minor capital works payment is paid.
“In the current economic climate, it is becoming increasingly difficult for parents to make-up the shortfall in funding through voluntary contributions and it is clear that many Irish primary schools are close to breaking point.
“The findings of the CPSMA survey illustrate the extent of the problem, with over half of Irish primary schools in deficit. The example of Wayside National School in Bluebell, Dublin, which has been left without heating because they have been unable to find €300 to pay for repairs to a boiler is a case in point.
“As we approach next week’s budget, I am calling on Education Minister Ruairí Quinn to closely examine the findings of this report and reverse the cuts that are preventing Irish school children receiving an adequate standard of education.”
Deputy O’Brien has submitted a request to the Ceann Comhairle asking that the issue be debated under Topical Issues.