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Social apartheid still exists in education - Crowe

23 October, 2006

Sinn Féin’s Education spokesperson Seán Crowe TD, pointing to the increasing numbers attending fee-paying secondary schools has attacked the system of ‘social apartheid’ in our education system. Pointing to figures showing that only 20% of students with low-skill/manual workers as parents go on to college, he went on to say that ‘Education is at the core of our society, equality should be at the core of education’.


The Dublin South-West TD said: “It has emerged that almost one in every 10 second-level pupils attend fee paying schools, giving them an unfair advantage. Such schools have extra resources, better quality facilities and smaller class sizes. The so-called elite schools have a higher proportion of students attending university and this is no coincidence.


“Despite the current government claims of prioritising eradicating educational inequality and disadvantage, social apartheid is evident in college entry with almost 90 per cent of children from well-off backgrounds attending third level education while a mere 20 per cent of students with low-skill/manual workers as parents go on to college. PAYE workers are part funding the children from professional backgrounds.


“Taxpayers should not have to subsidise these elite fee-paying schools. The majority of parents will never be able to afford to send their children to such schools and many parents struggle financially in sending their children to ‘free schools’, with rising books costs, school uniforms and contributions.


“Private education reinforces a two-tier education system. Education is at the core of our society, but equality should be at the core of education. Entry into University should not be largely the preserve of the rich, in which socio-economic background determines the likelihood of attending third level education.


“Instead of subsidising fee-paying schools, this government should increase its expenditure on education, as we have continually performed close to the bottom of OECD countries on levels of primary and secondary level spending. Based on the 2006 Revised Estimates Allocation €5,711 is spent per year on primary pupils while almost double that is spent on third level students. To ensure equality in education, it is imperative that spending per pupil at primary level increases, as most students from disadvantaged backgrounds are not making it to the college starting gates. Spending must also be focussed on pre-school level. The current situation of the children of professional classes being subsidised by PAYE workers is unfair to say the least.”



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