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Public funding for private schools must stop – Senator Paul Gavan

30 July, 2019 - by Paul Gavan

Sinn Féin Seanad spokesperson on Education Senator Paul Gavan has called for an end to public funding for private schools.

According to the Irish Times, the state continues to fork out over €90 million a year to cover costs for private schools.

Seanadóir Gavan said:

“Over 25,000 pupils are enrolled in Ireland’s private schools every year. More than 360,000 pupils are enrolled in the public sector.

“Despite being less than 10% of the student population, pupils enrolled in private schools are fourteen times more likely to go to university and make up 25-30% of new undergraduate students at the top universities across the country.

“Families enrolled at fee-paying schools pay thousands of euros (from €4,000 to €22,000) every year to ensure that their children get a better education than children who attend state schools. The State subsidises this behaviour.

“It is well documented that children who attend private schools come from the wealthiest families and have the best life chances.

“They attend the best universities, get the best degrees, and they are inducted into an elite social circle.

“Fees, and other admission obstacles, are not as much about ensuring ‘standards’ but exist to segregate wealthy children from working-class children.

“Private schools are an offensive practice and are antithetical to our ideals of democracy and equality of opportunity.                

“Private education facilitates the transfer of privilege from one generation to the next.

“Disparities across the second-level education system impinges upon equality of opportunity in pursuing tertiary education.

“The education system works for upwardly mobile middle-income groups, leaving others behind. A child’s opportunity in Ireland should not be related to the size of their parents’ income.

“As long as private schools exist, there will remain an incentive for parents to send their children to them. This desire by parents is not unwarranted.

“Clearly, if private schools are so influential and do perform better than public schools, the public education system is failing society.

“An overhaul of this state’s approach to education is necessary if we seek to be a society which truly cherishes all the children of the nation equally.”

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