Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Government merely paying lip-service to free education

16 November, 2006

Speaking today Sinn Féin spokesperson on Education Seán Crowe pointed a finger of blame at the Minister for Education Mary Hanafin and her Government for "failing to adequately invest in Primary Schools in times of unprecedented wealth."

The Dublin South West TD said, "Ireland continues to languish at the bottom of the OECD list on education spending. As a direct consequence of this government's consistent under-spending on education, many parents throughout the 26 counties are being forced to further subsidise children's education. This government, which has happily subsidised private education to the tune of &euro80 million, merely pays lip-service to providing free education.

"If an average school receives an annual grant of &euro25,000 but faces bills amounting to &euro48,000, it is obvious that almost half of an average school's yearly funding has to be found from voluntary contributions from parents and fundraisers or even in some cases from the pockets of teachers themselves.

"Voluntary contributions from parents are now an everyday necessity for schools to operate and cover costs. Many see these voluntary contributions as nothing more than a new name for fees.

"While this government literally throw taxpayer's money away on flawed electronic voting machines, expensive junkets, cost overruns of infrastructure projects and Bertie's makeup, it is schoolchildren who bare the brunt of this shortfall in education spending.

"Government education funding is failing to pick up the full tab of a school's lighting, heating, refurbishment, equipment and bin charge costs. Sinn Féin believes that Education spending should reach at least 6 per cent of GDP, recognised as the international best practise benchmark. Instead this government has been the scrooge of OECD countries in relation to education spending." Críoch

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