Third Level education must be accessible to all
Sinn Féin Education spokesperson Seán Crowe, speaking prior to Education Minister Noel Dempsey's meeting with representatives of the OECD in Dublin this afternoon, has rejected the OECD call for the reintroduction of third level fees. He said "all this report from the OECD does is rubber stamp the Minister's intention to reintroduce fees and all that this will achieve is increased educational disadvantage." Sinn Féin this morning attended a press conference organised by the Union of Students in Ireland and supported their campaign against a return of student fees.
Deputy Crowe said:
"I believe that the OECD Report that free fees have not worked is flawed and we oppose their recommendation that they should be reintroduced. The report states what we largely already know about the 3rd level sector, that it is under funded. However the report then goes on to put forward the argument that the deficit in funding can be solved only through student contributions. Sinn Féin would refute this notion, we have consistently called for the funding of education through a genuinely progressive taxation system. In real terms all this report from the OECD does is rubber stamp the Minister's intention to reintroduce fees and all that this will achieve is increased educational disadvantage.
"Of course that is not the only issue to be tackled in terms of access to education. Sinn Féin believes that barriers to education occur at a much earlier time in a student‚s academic career and for very many students from disadvantaged areas, obstacles arise far earlier in the learning experience; in some cases as far back as the pre-school period. Greater resources needs to be put into education at the earliest stages so that young people will make it through to third level.
"The government must recognise the real importance that education plays in the Irish economy and fund it properly. Sinn Féin fully supports the campaign launched by the Union of Students in Ireland aimed at opposing the re-introduction of third level fees."ENDS