Sinn Féin delegation to hand in Downing Street Education petition
Sinn Féin Education Spokesperson, West Belfast MLA Michael Ferguson will lead a party delegation including Derry City Councillor Maeve McLaughlin and Banbridge councillor Desmond Ward to hand in a petition of 12,000 signatures against cuts to Education Library Board services and the erosion of the Education System in the Six Counties. All three elected representatives come from areas that have suffered heavily from the British Government's so called 'efficiency savings'.
The Sinn Féin Education Representatives will hand in the petition protest at 10 Downing Street, London tomorrow, Tuesday December 13th at 11am
Commenting on the visit Michael Ferguson said:
"We have a petition of 12.000 signatures which is a token of the frustration and anger felt right across our society at the deteriorating conditions within our schools.
"In the last two years we have lost over 500 school staff. In one area alone we have lost over 78 school crossings (SEELB) and school transport in other rural areas, where it is most needed, has been eroded.
"In West Belfast we have lost 82 teaching and non-teaching staff from 18 schools since last year. Over half of these were classroom assistants. In one classroom, in one of the most deprived areas in the Six County, in a class of 30 children 19 are Special Needs. This clearly is not the most appropriate way to implement the new Special Needs Educational Order.
"Instead of offering hope and a new beginning the abolition of the 11+ and recently announced changes to school transfer and admissions procedures have added to the growing public alarm. Instead of building confidence by investing in our schools, the British government is boasting about so called 'efficiency savings' that have left schools without music and sports coaching, without safe routes to school and teachers whose morale is at an all time low.
"It is clear to us, parents, our voters and educationalists that the cost of direct rule is a price to high to pay. We are calling Tony Blair and his Government to trigger D'Hondt to re-establish the Assembly and Cross Border Institutions so that we can deliver our own educational entitlement with our own locally accountable ministers. In this way we can ensure a real budget to support education and learning.