Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Research on Educational Maintenance Allowance - reinforces what we already know

22 August, 2006

Sinn Féin Education Spokesperson Michael Ferguson commenting on research published by the NI Social and Political Archive (QUB/UU) who assessed the impact of the Educational Maintenance Allowance (EMA) said:

"This research does not tell us anything we do not already know - that young people from low income families are more likely to leave school, however the fact that it is such as high difference is matter of concern. But it should surprise no one that there is a correlation between educational underachievement and poverty.

"This research tells us that those from low income families who stay on a school to take advantage of the EMA do so simply for the income that it brings into the home. However, it doesn't tell us that they come out with more qualifications or with better literacy and numeracy.

"This research reinforces what we already know. It does not require rocket science to know that we must address educational underachievement. We need common sense and to do this we only need to deliver health and social service care programmes into early years educational provision.

"It means investing earlier by ensuring that there is a childcare place for every child in an area characterised by multiple deprivation, supported by access to a social worker, health visitor, family support worker, speech therapist, all of the services that can address the co-occurring issues that affect a child's life.

" The current demographic down trends leading to falling rolls and the new education reform order would all complement this early investment. Sadly, we have British Direct rule ministers who are squandering all of the opportunities that falling rolls offer while disinvesting in our education system. Tragically, we can probably predict no decrease in the numeracy and literacy deficits and even more young people from low income families leaving school earlier without qualifications and fewer still going to University as the adverse impact of the Top up Fee system is experienced.

" We need our own local accountable education minister and we do not have one because the DUP are holding us all especially our educationalists and consequently our children and young people to ransom because they will not take part in the Democratic process." ENDS

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