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Sinn Féin supports call to double capitation grant – Ó Caoláin

11 March, 2008

Speaking in the Dáil this evening on a Private Member's Motion calling for the Capitation Grant for Primary school students to be doubled Sinn Féin Dáil leader Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD supported the motion and criticised Education Minister Mary Hanafin for reneging on commitments to cut class sizes.

Speaking during the course of the debate Deputy Ó Caoláin said, "Sinn Féin fully supports the call to double the Capitation Grant for primary school students.

"Schools in this State are in financial crisis and this is plain to see. From soaring water charges, to under-resourced classes, to overcrowded class-rooms, the underinvestment in education by the Government, most especially in the primary sector, is truly appalling.

"Capitation Grants are intended to be spent on the day to day running costs of the school. However, according to recent surveys, 8 out of 10 schools are fundraising to meet daily running costs and many schools find that government funding covers only 50% of the schools' basic costs. This situation is absolutely scandalous.

"Pupils' needs come first and teachers must be freed to concentrate on teaching first and foremost. How are they even to attempt this when they are constantly distracted, trying to stretch already meagre funding to cover the most basic of running costs?

"Boards, principals, teachers, parents' associations and local communities are constantly involved in fundraising. Were it not for the hard efforts of these groups many schools would be completely defunct. They have had to depend on assistance for the trustees and patrons to clear those debts. A large number of primary schools are operating from temporary accommodation in sports clubs and community premises. This is completely unacceptable.

"This motion is timely as it comes after Minister Hanafin disgracefully reneged on the commitment to cut class sizes progressively throughout the lifetime of this Government. The Minister blames a downturn in the economy for this decision. All the more reason to maintain and increase investment in education which is the best guarantee of future prosperity based on an educated workforce and a more equitable society." ENDS

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