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Jonathan O'Brien TD expresses "major concern" regarding education aspects of Fine Gael/Fianna Fáil deal

6 May, 2016 - by Jonathan O'Brien TD

Sinn Féin TD Jonathan O'Brien has expressed his "major concern" regarding the education aspects of the agreement struck between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil in government formation.

Deputy O'Brien was speaking following the reelection of Enda Kenny as Taoiseach this afternoon.

He said;

"While there are some parts of the education aspect of the agreement to be welcomed, much of what is being proposed is cause for major concern.

"I do not believe that the government plan to address difficulties in admissions to schools that will actually produce the equality that is needed. There is no firm commitment to introduce an outright ban on religious discrimination in schools. 

"Sinn Féin has concerns about how the proposed School Excellence Fund operates and would caution that additional funding must not be allocated to private fee-paying schools who perform well. 
"I welcome the retention of the Minor Works and Summer Works schemes, however there is an onus to outline the exact level of funding that will be allocated.

"The proposal for students to spend a year, during their university courses, working in industry is alarming given the absence of detail. Sinn Féin will vigorously oppose any move towards supplying cheap labour under the cover of education. 

"Furthermore, we are alarmed about the pilot scheme proposed to funnel students out of disadvantage and in to the defence forces and we will expand upon them in due course. 

"We have major concerns regarding the proposals to have a pool of business leaders assisting school initiatives. We will not tolerate privatisation of teaching or the management of primary and secondary education by stealth. 

"Likewise, we will oppose any attempts to privatise third level and we will continue to raise concerns regarding the proposal to partner industry with colleges to deliver third level courses. 

"We welcome a proposal review SUSI, however we urge that review to have the objective of proposing grant levels that cater to the real cost of living and actual circumstances of disadvantaged students lives. 

"It is time that a government delivered genuine equality in education. The proposals contained within the 'supply and confidence' agreement do not fill me with the hope that such a goal will be a priority of this incoming administration."

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