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HEA report points to growing social apartheid in Ireland

18 May, 2006


Sinn Féin Education spokesperson Seán Crowe TD described the Higher Education Authority (HEA) report on Who Went to College in 2004 as "an excellent guide to who is and who isn't benefiting from Governmental policies in the 26 Counties today. Speaking in Leinster House today Deputy Crowe said the report has "clear evidence of a growing social apartheid in Ireland."

He said, "The HEA report on Who Went to College in 2004 is a welcome addition to enhancing our understanding of societal change and trends in Ireland. It is also important because reports like these are an excellent guide to who is and isn't benefiting from governmental polices in the 26 Counties today.

"So we should welcome the rise in the number of leaving certificate students moving on to third level education, particularly the increase from 20% in 1980 to 60% in 2004, and it is also a positive that the representation of lower income households in Irish colleges has increased.

"However, for my party and the constituents I represent, we must go further and ask is access to third level education finally becoming fairer and truly representative of all social groups?

"To me it seems that the answer is a firm 'No' coming from some of the findings from the ESRI/HEA report.

"It seems that when you consider the data from this report alongside the findings of the CSO EU Survey on Income and Living conditions and the Quarterly National Household Survey you find clear evidence of a growing social apartheid in Ireland that is rooted in the quality of housing, where you live and the quality of education you receive and have access to.

"There is a 80-20 or maybe even a 70-30 society in Ireland today where up to 30% of the population are suffering deprivation, and are paid low wages because they are unskilled, exploited and without adequate education for the demands of the modern labour market.

"It is not only about access for people from this background but it is also about support mechanisms for people from this background and this is the area where greater resources and greater emphasis needs to be placed." ENDS

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