Sinn Féin’s Education Spokesperson Seán Crowe, TD, has welcomed this week’s announcement of the establishment of a new scholarship scheme for students attending higher education.
Deputy Crowe said: “I welcome the decision by the Department of Education and Skills who have announced new arrangements that will mean 60 students from DEIS schools who hold medical cards will receive €2,000 each September. This number is supposed to rise over the next three years with 350 new students benefiting from the scheme from 2015.
“This announcement comes at a very opportune time as it is getting increasingly difficult for students to meet the costs of going on to a 3rd level Education.
“This scholarship scheme is designed to help and give some additional financial support to young people from disadvantaged backgrounds
“The bursary awards will be awarded regionally based on an individual’s Leaving Certificate results.
“This type of initiative is in stark contrast to the ongoing cuts that have been imposed on many DEIS and non Deis schools that are acting as barrier and preventing many from achieving their full academic potential.
“The release today of corresponding results for Irish schools in OECD’s 2009 Programme for International Student Assessment tests clearly shows that, achievement differences between school types in Ireland are related to the socio-economic compositions of their student intakes.
“The OECD report also highlights a significant discrepancy in the reading scores of 15 year olds who are attending Vocational schools and Private Fee paying schools.
“The extra supports from DEIS and other programmes are essential if we are to bring a level of equality of opportunity within the current education system.
“Funding which is currently available is barely enough to help many of these disadvantaged schools maintain an acceptable level of academic achievement.
“Supports like the School Scholarship Scheme need to be increased dramatically otherwise the current two-tier education system will become even more unbalanced.”