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Education spending must be increased - Doherty

26 March, 2008

Speaking as he attended the TUI Conference in Wexford Today Sinn Féin Education Spokesperson Senator Pearse Doherty called on Education Minister Mary Hanafin to incrementally increase spending on education to at least 6% of GDP. Senator Doherty said schools which operate enrolment policies that blatantly discriminate against certain sections of society must be challenged.

He said, "Minister Hanafin has today admitted that some schools are discriminating against some sections of society when it comes to enrolment. By calling on schools to make parents more aware of their rights to prevent their children from being discriminated against, she is attempting to dodge responsibility for this development.

"Discrimination in Irish society must be tackled wherever it is found and it is the duty of the Minister and her Department to come down hard on those schools which she says are blatantly discriminating against some sections of society. Legislation must be brought forward to deal once and for all with this problem.

"Spending on public education must be increased to meet international best practice at the very least. A plan needs to be put in place by the Minister to incrementally increase spending on education to at least 6% of GDP and the deadlines must be met. We are currently lying joint last out of 29 OECD Countries in relation to spending on second level education.

"If we are serious about becoming a knowledge based economy then we must invest in our education system. We need only look at the state of our schools to see that increased investment in urgently required.

"Our children are being taught in substandard, rodent invested schools while the summer works programme has been cancelled and the commitment to double the capitation grant has been reneged on. The commitment to reduce class sizes has also been reneged on.

"So it is plane to see that increased investment is required. We all know that investment in education is beneficial to the economy so all that is missing is the political will. The Government needs to prioritise education. If they are not going to invest in our children then they are not fit for office." ENDS

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