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Government failed to ease crisis in education - Doherty

14 October, 2008

Sinn Féin Education Spokesperson Senator Pearse Doherty has said the Government has failed to take any measures to ease the crisis in education in Budget 2009. He said he is astonished that Government actually opted to increase class sizes and that funding for primary school buildings has been slashed.

He said, "Everyone knew that the Government had moved away from its Programme for Government Commitment to reduce class sizes. However, nobody expected it to completely abandon it and actually announce an increase in class sizes in today's budget announcement. This move is a kick in the teeth to all those voters who took Fianna Fáil on their word when they promised reduced class sizes ahead of the General Election in 2007.

"There are over 1,400 schools on the school building programme yet the Government has actually slashed funding for primary school building. The highest proportion of the funding provided for capital projects in education is to be spent on third level institutions.

"The increase in third level registration fees from €900 to €1,500 will place a huge added burden on students who are already suffering from high rents and other education costs.

"The Government had committed to double the grant used for the running costs of primary schools. However, they have announced just a 13% increase which won't go far to deal with the crisis in the running of primary schools who combined are in debt to the tune of €84million and are relying on parents and volunteers to fundraise to cover their costs.

"Sinn Féin had called on the Government to invest in education as part of an overall strategy to deal with the current economic downturn. We are extremely disappointed that they have failed to take any measures whatsoever to ease the crisis in education in this budget." ENDS

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