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Investment in primary education a key priority for Sinn Féin

30 April, 2007


Sinn Féin Education Spokesperson and Dublin South West TD Sean Crowe today said that investment in primary education will be a key priority for Sinn Féin in government.  We are committed to reducing class sizes, tackling educational disadvantage and providing sufficient school places in high standard school buildings.

Deputy Crowe said:

“Sinn Féin believes that education is a basic and fundamental human right. Education should be free, universally available as of right. Instead of guaranteeing everyone equal access to the highest standard of education, however, current Government policy has entrenched educational inequalities and a two-tier system.  Educational expenditure is one of the lowest as a percentage of income. 

“More than one in four primary school pupils are being taught in overcrowded classrooms.  Many are taught in run-down facilities and too many children still go to school hungry. An estimated 1,000 students per year do not make the transition from primary to secondary education.  Meanwhile taxpayers pay €80 million per annum to subsidise the private education system, even though the children of the majority will never have a chance to attend these exclusive fee paying schools.   

"In government Sinn Féin will reduce class sizes for primary school children under 9 to a ratio of 20 children per teacher. When this target has been met Sinn Féin will continue to implement this policy throughout the primary school system. This will require huge planning in terms of the training and recruitment of teachers and the provision of additional classrooms.


"Population growth in Dublin and surrounding counties has mushroomed in recent years. Due to a lack of integrated planning by the government thousands of children are in overcrowded schools without proper resources or satisfactory school buildings. In some instances parents are not even able to put their young child's name down in local schools as no places are available.

"In government Sinn Féin will work to deliver sufficient school places for all pupils wherever they live.  We will recruit more teachers and increase school building construction.  We will also eliminate the use of prefab classrooms within the life time of the next Dáil.  No substantial development should be allowed to go ahead with the necessary infrastructure including schools and playgrounds being included.

 "If we are to give every child an equal start in life then we need to increase our investment in their future and intervene in the early years of their education."

Sinn Féin priorities in government for primary education

  • Increase funding per pupil at pre-school and primary level so that expenditure will be more equal to that at third level, ensuring that schools in areas of high disadvantage receive proportionately more funding and resources.
  • Reduce all class sizes for children under 9 years of age to a maximum of 20 pupils as promised by Fianna Fáil and the PDs in their Programme for Government in 2002.  And then extend this throughout the primary school system.
  • Legislate, plan and budget for immediate upgrading of substandard schools and building of premises where required.  Ensure that the practice of educating children in prefab buildings is eliminated within the lifetime of the next Dáil.
  • Introduce a standard statewide school breakfast and lunch programme to supply nutritious food free of charge to schoolchildren.
  • Provide adequate funding for the National Education Welfare Board, to increase the number of Educational Welfare Officers to combat school absenteeism and low attendance.
  • A new emphasis in the school curriculum at primary and secondary level on civic education, the rights and responsibilities of citizenship and encouragement of voluntary activity across society.  Education needs to prepare children for life and encourage creativity and human thought and not just be about providing the next generation of workers.
  • Fund appropriate supports within mainstream classrooms for children with special needs. This should include adequate provision of special needs assistants where required.
  • Improve training for ESL teachers and remove caps on the number of language support resource hours.
  • Improve provision of naíscoileanna and Gaelscoileanna.
  • Teach a second subject through Irish at primary school level such as PE, music or drama.

 




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