Crisis looming if further cuts are imposed on frontline education services – Jonathan O’Brien
Speaking ahead of next week’s budget Sinn Féin education spokesperson, Jonathan O’Brien TD, has said any additional cuts to frontline services, or changes to the pupil teacher ratio, will have a devastating impact on schools across the country.
The Cork North Central TD has described as “very worrying” recent reports that an additional €13 million is to be taken out of this year’s education budget, on top of the €77 million already identified by the education minister, Ruairí Quinn.
“Successive budget cuts over the past couple of years,” he continued, “have hit the education sector hard and it is children and young people who are suffering.
“Teachers are telling the government they are struggling to cope and their unions have made it very clear that any increase in the pupil-teacher ratio, or further cuts to key services, will make it next to impossible to deliver the school curriculum.
“Instead of targeting the type of supports that underpin our education system, Minister Quinn needs to ring fence funding for supports that are essential if teachers are to do their jobs properly. Too often this has not been the case and it is the usually the most vulnerable children who are unfairly targeted and left to flounder because they do not get the help they need.
“In Sinn Féin’s pre-budget submission we have put forward a number of proposals that if implemented would ensure a fairer allocation of resources. For a start, the Minister should tackle the high earners employed at second and third level and those within his own department who are paid in excess of €100k annually.
“At the same time, he needs to ensure newly qualified teachers are paid adequately and this can be achieved by the savings that would result from phasing out the State subsidises that are paid to private fee paying schools.
“Finally,” concluded Deputy O’Brien, “Minister Quinn can implement practical measures that can save parents money by extending the book lending scheme and making school uniforms more affordable.”
“We cannot have a repeat of the cuts of last year where DEIS schools were targeted and the loss of school guidance counsellors and a reduction in the capitation grant have resulted in a growing crisis for schools.”