Speaking following the publication of figures by the Higher Education Authority regarding the progression of young people from disadvantaged areas to higher education, Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Education Jonathan O’Brien TD said it was time for the government and Department of Education to comprehensively overhaul the education system in order to eradicate educational inequality.
Deputy O’Brien said;
“The HEA figures show that there is a very low level of participation in higher education from pupils who come from economically disadvantaged areas.
“These geographic pockets of socio-economic disadvantage are like that because of decades of government policies that concentrated poverty in particular areas that had little by the way of services and opportunities.
“We welcome the HEA consultation document on developing equity of access to higher education, but this will not be resolved by simply tinkering with HEA
“Nobody will be surprised that students from privileged areas who go to fee-paying schools have higher progression rates than children who don’t.
“What is needed is a fundamental overhaul of the education system that eradicates the two-tier ethos that is at its very core.
“Students with disabilities and special needs have had their SNAs taken from
them. Traveller pupils are regularly denied sufficient supports, and the government has decimated guidance counselling services.
“Students living in real poverty are caught by SUSI loopholes and denied funding, facing bills of thousands they simply can’t afford to pay.
“If the government is serious about eradicating inequality in education, they will review the whole system and take the steps necessary from early years education onwards to ensure that there is equality of condition in education.”