Sinn Féin education spokesperson Seán Crowe TD has called on Minister Ruairí Quinn to stand by the commitments he made last year to reduce the cost of school uniforms.
Deputy Crowe said the Minister has failed to deliver on his promised reforms in relation to this matter and that parents were being forced to shoulder an ever increasing financial burden that could be reduced with the introduction of relatively simple measures.
Speaking ahead of the INTO’s conference in Kerry, Deputy Crowe said:
“The cost of sending children to school is putting huge financial strain on thousands of families who are already suffering the effects of the recession and budget cutbacks.
“When I raised this issue last July with the Minister he agreed to consider some initiatives but so far we have seen nothing and parents are still struggling. As we near the end of this school year, very little has been done to ease the cost of clothing a child for school. Hard pressed parents are forced to pay a small fortune on school uniforms which sees some retailers charging a fortune for school jumpers which have the crests emblazoned on them.
“Some retailers are clearly abusing the monopoly they have on the market for school uniforms. It is rightly viewed as a racket by many of the parents that I have spoken to.
“Minister Quinn is in a position to reduce the significant cost factor by ensuring schools provide students with crests, for a small cost, to be sewn onto standard school jumpers.
“The issue of school books also needs to be looked into. For example, the use of books requiring students to write answers into them means that these books cannot be passed onto other students at the end of the year. This also needs to change and the Minister needs to act to introduce new initiatives to bring down the costs of sending children to school.”