Myth of free education put to an end – Ó Caoláin
Sinn Féin Dáil leader Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD has stated that the results of a study showing that the cost of educating a child up to and including third level is over €61,000 puts an end to the myth of free education in Ireland. Deputy Ó Caoláin said investment in education is crucial to the future of the Irish economy.
He said, "Revelations today that the cost of educating a child through to third level is over €61,000 puts an end to the myth of free education in Ireland. These costs are hardest felt by those families on low and middle incomes.
"At a time of economic downturn it is essential that those on low and middle incomes are protected. The current 'back to school' allowance is totally inadequate and needs to be increased. Sinn Féin will oppose any cuts in the 'back to school' allowance in Budget '09.
"Similarly, the third level grants system is failing our third level students and needs to be increased.
"Sinn Féin would like to see the €80million that is currently provided annually to private schools redirected to the public education system to ease the burden on low and middle income earners.
"On top of the costs of uniforms and books and other equipment, parents have the added burden of feeling that they should contribute to the costs of running and maintaining their children's schools. This is completely unacceptable and a failure of the state. The capitation grant only covers 50% of school running costs leaving boards of management and parents to fundraise for the remaining 50%. Sinn Féin is calling for the capitation grant to be doubled to take away the added burden on parents.
"The Government is currently spending over €4million on prefab accommodation for school children despite being blissfully unaware how many are being taught in this type of building. This is a complete waste of money and should be re-invested in a proper school build programme.
"If we are truly to build the knowledge based economy that we so often talk about then investment in education must be forthcoming. If the money is not in the coffers to do this then I would suggest that the State borrows to cover this capital expenditure, which will benefit the economy in the longer term." ENDS