Nolan introduces Bill to Address Educational Disadvantage
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Education and Skills Carol Nolan TD has, this week, introduced a bill to re-establish the Educational Disadvantage Committee on a statutory footing under the Education Act 1998.
While introducing the Bill on Thursday, Teachta Nolan said:
“The purpose of this committee is to advise the Minister for Education and Skills of the policies and strategies to be adopted in order to identify and correct educational disadvantage.
“This Committee was in office from the years 2003 to 2006.
“The work of the Committee fed directly into the establishment of the DEIS scheme, which has had a huge impact in our schools in addressing educational disadvantage.
“It is my view that the Committee represented significant value for money, costing in total €175,000 over the three years it was in office and its abolition was a mistake.
“As we know, the consistent child poverty rates in Ireland have risen from 6.3% in 2008 to 11.5% in 2015, according to figures from the European Anti- Poverty Network.
“We also know that the overall funding for DEIS has fallen by almost €20 million from €193 million in 2008 to €174 million in 2015 at a time when child poverty rates were increasing.
“Unfortunately, we are also aware that particular policy decisions have had a disproportionate effect on disadvantaged children and have increased educational disadvantage, for example cuts to guidance counselling provision, cuts to the Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance, and cuts to educational services for traveller children to name just a few.
“Particular groups such as asylum seekers, children in lone parent households, traveller children and, in recent years and to our great shame, homeless children are at particular risk of educational disadvantage.
“I believe that the establishment of this Committee on a statutory footing would be a timely initiative and would send out a clear message that this house takes the issue of educational disadvantage seriously and is determined to address it.”