Speaking following the Barnardos Back to School Costs Survey published for this year, Sinn Féin Education Spokesperson Deputy Jonathan O’Brien called on the new Minister for Education Jan O’Sullivan to look at the results and address them as a matter of urgency.
Deputy O’Brien said;
“The results of this survey show that average sized families with two or three children are being hit with costs of thousands to send them to school.
“The idea we have free education in Ireland is a myth.
“Parents are either buying school books or paying for book rental schemes which charge high amounts.
“The previous Minister didn’t lift a finger to introduce rules to allow for generic school uniforms despite having the power to do so.
“Children from lower income families are missing out on school trips and extra-curricular activities that are the norm because their families simply cannot afford them.
“We have called for the regulation of voluntary contributions and the fact is, regardless of rules already in place, children are excluded when their parents can’t pay by having lockers withheld and being prevented from accessing after-school activities and so on.
“Ultimately, voluntary contributions must be eradicated; schools should not be forced to plug the funding gap from the state by pressuring parents for extra cash.
“We have previously called for the removal of 23% VAT on school ebooks and the government ignored it.
“The Minister has a responsibility to address all of these issues and I am calling upon Jan O’Sullivan to do so as a matter of urgency.”