Education must not get the scraps from the table
Sinn Féin Education Spokesperson, Newry Armagh MLA Davy Hyland speaking after a Department of Finance and Personnel briefing on the draft budget for 2005-08 has warned that there must be real increases in spending, beyond those swallowed up by inflationary and staff wages pressures, to meet the requirements particularly for greater investment in additional psychologists, teachers in special units and classroom assistants.
Mr Hyland said:
"It is vital that the Education sector gets the funding allocations needed to improve and enhance the opportunities for all children across the six counties. On studying the draft budget it is clear that the Department is developing arguments based on declining numbers to support a decrease, in absolute real terms, in the Education budget.
"I hope that this is not been the case, as I believe the needs of our children should be paramount in determining such allocations. There should be no excuses and no hidden agendas that result in services and opportunities for our children and young people being eroded and denied. Special Needs Education in particular require significantly increased funding, in terms of supplying additional psychologists, teachers in special units and classroom assistants.
"The block grant fails to deliver a fair and just slice of the British budget and the continuation of unaccountable direct rule ministers deciding budgetary allocations for the Six Counties must come to an end. As we have seen in recent weeks there are already severe financial pressures within the education system that is leading to unacceptable cuts in schools maintenance, support staff and possibly even in hot school meals. Our children deserve more than scraps from the British Treasury table. We need to get firm control of our own finances once and for all and allocate them ourselves." ENDS
Note to Editors
SEN - £21.8 million more over the budget period including 300 more frontline staff
The new curriculum changes - £3 million has been obtained for the new curriculum
Implementation of Costello - £20.1 million - to take forward post primary reform
Proposed increases over the three years are:
2005/06 - 5.5%
2006/07 - 2.0%
2007/08 - 3.7%