Underwhelming Spring Statement will not undo damage done to education sector - O’ Brien
Sinn Féin's spokesperson on Education Jonathan O' Brien derided the lip service given to education in the government's Spring Statement due to the extent of education cuts in previous Fine Gael/Labour austerity budgets.
Speaking in the Dáil today Deputy O' Brien said;
“If you needed any further proof of a two-tier recovery you only have to look at the proposals in the economic statement. Consider how services have been absolutely decimated, and not only over the course of the austerity budgets. Untold damage has been done to citizens and to the fabric of society over the last number of years.
“In the statement yesterday the minster touched on education. There was no such talk of the importance of education to economic recovery over the last three austerity budgets. When you cut capitation grants to primary and secondary schools, when you increase pupil teacher ratios, when you cut back school clothing allowances - the importance of education was not spoken of.
“That doesn’t even touch on third level and higher level as well as cuts in funding for those in apprenticeships. They have had devastating effects on the educational sector which is going to be felt for many years to come.
“The big challenge in education is the change in demographics. We need 3,500 extra teachers over the next number of years to meet the rise in student numbers, estimated to increase by 50,000 students.
“Anyone looking at that trend would have to question whether that’s achievable within the economic model that the government are proposing and implementing, because if their record to date in education is anything to go by it is unlikely. There have been no additional hours given to a child in receipt of an SNA for example. Resource teaching was cut by 15%.
"We need a recovery that’s fair, that’s just, which addresses the cuts which have been implemented over previous years and we need an increase in expenditure on those very services because unless you put investment into those services, not only just to meet the demographic demand, you’re never going to get ahead.”