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Government needs to wake up and tackle Back to School costs – Funchion

2 August, 2018 - by Kathleen Funchion TD

Following the release of the Barnardos survey on Back to School costs, Sinn Féin TD and Education spokesperson Kathleen Funchion has again today called on the government to tackle back to school costs. 

The Carlow-Kilkenny TD said:

“We are seeing sharp rises in the number of schools being forced to ask for voluntary contributions. An 11% rise in the number of primary schools highlights the repercussions of the underfunding of these schools. Parents should not have to pay for the upkeep and general running of schools and the government needs to consider a rise in capitation grants in the upcoming Budget as Sinn Féin has proposed for the last number of years.

“In September, we will be relaunching our bill aiming to regulate the circumstances in which schools ask for voluntary contributions. I today call on Minister for Education Richard Bruton to give a straight answer and ease the minds of those already beginning to worry about next year. Will the government be happy to support this Bill and ensure that September 2019 poses less of a worry and strain on the parents of this country?

“School book prices have risen at both primary and second-level. This is not good enough. Books are a fundamental and basic tool of learning that should be accessible to every single child. Sinn Féin proposes the expansion of the Book Rental scheme to include all schools nationwide, the reduction of the use of workbooks and an increase in funding to reduce the amount paid by parents.

“With a majority of parents being forced to delay payment of other bills or take money out of savings to cover school costs and an unacceptable number being forced into debt simply to pay for their children’s so-called free education, the government needs to wake up and realise people are struggling.

“Primary and secondary education should be the bare minimum standard we aim to achieve for all young people. Pricing children out of education and placing insurmountable financial barriers in their way is just not good enough.

“Once again, I call on Minister Bruton and this government to increase capitation funding, ban the compulsory nature of some 'voluntary' contributions and increase the Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance. The parents and children of this country deserve better.”

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