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Hanafin must stand up to elite schools - Crowe

8 December, 2006


Sinn Féin Education spokesperson Seán Crowe today once again pressed the Minister for Education Mary Hanafin to intervene 'to prevent the state's so-called elite schools cherry-picking students and discriminating against those schoolchildren with special needs by refusing to enrol them'.

The Dublin South-West TD said: "Not only is it disturbing that such schools actively refuse to accept schoolchildren with special educational needs, fee-paying schools continue to receive substantial state funding, worth €96 million this year. Their discrimination is effectively being subsidised by the state.

"While the Minister has accepted that fee-paying schools are abdicating their obligation to enrol students on a non-discriminatory basis, she has done absolutely nothing to prevent this practice. Instead of Minister Hanafin advising parents whose children have been refused from such schools to take legal action, as Minister for Education she should take responsibility to ensure state funded schools fulfil their obligations. One immediate measure she could take would be to remove funding from such schools who actively engage in the discrimination of potential pupils.

"Parents of schoolchildren should not have to take court action to ensure their children receive a full and fair education, it should be a protected right. It is shameful that Minister Hanafin and her government are sitting back encouraging parents, who actually subsidise fee-paying schools through tax, to go to court to secure the right of their child to an education."

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