Government ‘ensuring that low-income families do not have the same educational opportunities’ – Funchion
Following the release of the Zurich Life Assurance ‘Cost of Education’ report, Sinn Féin TD and Education spokesperson Kathleen Funchion has today expressed her extreme concern at the burden placed on parents of children in school.
The Carlow-Kilkenny TD said:
“Sinn Féin recognise education as a fundamental human right. Children, regardless of economic or social background, should be able to access the education system. With 1/3 of secondary school parents being forced to get into debt, it couldn’t be clearer that the Irish education system is at risk of becoming an elitist and unaffordable luxury. This is a disgrace.
“According to the Zurich report, the total cost of completing primary and second-level education is almost €14,000. From voluntary contributions to school books, parents are paying extortionate prices for the fundamental basics of education.
“Sinn Féin are committed to doing what this government are clearly not interested in – we would ensure every child could afford to go to school and every parent could send their child to school with no need to borrow. We hope to relaunch our Voluntary Contributions Bill in the new Dáil term which would hopefully see no parent being forced to pay a so-called ‘Voluntary’ sum of money to their child’s school. Hopefully, this will help ease some of the financial burden on parents.
“It is also very worrying that the Department has now asked parents to ‘bear with them’ while thousands wait for the Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance. Thousands of families around the country have had to put their back to school preparations on hold while they await these decisions and it is just not good enough.
“Sinn Féin will continue to fight for a €50 increase to this allowance – we included it in our budget proposal last year and will be including it again this year. The children of low-income parents should not be discriminated against.
“This government is ensuring that the financial burden of education lands solely on the shoulders of already overworked and underpaid parents. This government is ensuring that children from low-income families do not have the same educational opportunities that their peers get. This government does not seem to care. This is not fair, it is not right, and Sinn Féin will fight them every step of the way.”