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Ó Snodaigh sets out Sinn Féin demands to off set back to school costs

31 August, 2010 - by Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD

Speaking as children across the state returned to school today Sinn Féin spokesperson for Social Protection Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD set out a number of key demands to off set the costs of back to school time for parents.

Speaking this morning he said:

“Parents are finding it harder and harder to budget for back to school time. With bills of up to €1,000 for a secondary school student and up to €500 for a primary school student, these figures walk all over the notion of free education.

“The reality for thousands of families this week is that their children are returning to school without the proper uniform or school books and equipment. If we continue to send our children to school unprepared then we cannot expect to develop the knowledge economy that we so often talk about.

“These high costs are crippling families who are already trying to cope with job losses, government cuts and debt. We want a return to education as a right paid for by fair and general taxation.

“Sinn Féin demands:

• An end to the system where schools are reliant on voluntary contributions from parents by raising the capitation grants to cover the real cost of running a school.

• Abolish the charge for the leaving cert and junior cert and for the mocks.

• Establish a book lending scheme across all primary and secondary schools.

• End the use of workbooks to facilitate the exchange of textbooks between pupils and siblings.

• No increase to the school transport fee.

• Introduce a new Back to School Allowance that absorbs the current Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance and introduces an additional payment for books and other expenses to more accurately reflect the true costs of sending a child to school.

• Extend eligibility for this scheme to all families in receipt of the Family Income Supplement in addition to those in receipt of social welfare.

• Increase computerisation with online text books and introduce a special fund for computers for disadvantaged children.

“The cost of all of this is miniscule in comparison to what has been pumped into Anglo Irish Bank and the benefits to the future knowledge economy would be invaluable.” ENDS

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