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Cuts to School Completion Programme a serious blow to children from disadvantaged backgrounds – O’Brien

13 March, 2013 - by Jonathan O'Brien TD

Sinn Féin Education Spokesperson has said government cuts to the School Completion Programme (SCP) over the past three years are having a significant impact on some of the State’s most vulnerable children.

The Cork North Central TD made his comments after raising the matter this week in the Dáil. He referred to the 20% cut in the programme’s funding that benefited 470 primary and 223 post-primary schools to implement educational interventions for approximately 36,000 students.

Deputy O’Brien said;

“The scale of these cuts in recent years, the latest of which was a further 6.5% reduction announced in this year’s budget, shows that the government is prepared to allow the most vulnerable sections of Irish society to shoulder the burden of austerity.

“The School Completion Programme plays a vital role in ensuring every child, regardless of their individual circumstances or family background, has the opportunity to complete his or her schooling to Leaving Cert level.

“Those involved in the programme work in some of the State’s most disadvantaged communities and it has become an integral part of the school system. The wealth experience that it has gained in building relationships and working with students, families, and outside agencies have proven invaluable, particularly at a time of rising unemployment and increased levels of poverty.

“School Completion Programmes provide a number of supports including provision for breakfast, lunch and after dinner clubs which help ensure children receive an adequate meal during their time at school and helps greatly to enhance their capacity to study and learn.

“Added to this is the academic supports offered to students and the SCP has a proven track record that has helped to improve school attendance.

“In my own constituency the Le Chéile project, which covers five DEIS schools in Knocknaheeny in the north side of Cork City has found its funding cut. This project benefits hundreds of students in an area that has a higher than average number of pupils with special needs and a high school dropout rate.

“Ultimately, these cuts will greatly impact on the education of children from low income backgrounds and they should be reversed as part of the comprehensive review of expenditure due to take place in 2014.”

Notes to editors:

A transcript of the debate can be found at:

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