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School drop-out rates disturbing and point to gross inequality in education

15 August, 2003

Responding  to  today's  shocking  figures  for the rate of drop-outs from second level  schools,  especially  in Dublin, Sinn Féin spokesperson on Education Seán Crowe said:

"It is disturbing but not surprising that the dropout rates are so high. What is truly  shocking  has been the Government s response to it.  In September 2002 in one  of  his  first  acts as Minister for Education, Noel Dempsey cut 6 million from the School Retention Initiative, specifically designed to reduce the school dropout rate. Is  it  at  all surprising then that Dublin has the second lowest participation rate  in  Third  Level  of  any  county in the state and is well behind other EU capitals  in access to Third Level, when the Government does not feel obliged to invest in second level.

"What  these figures also highlight is that inequality in the 26 Counties starts at a very early stage and that it has been fuelled by the policies of successive Governments. The  fact  that the high dropout rates are almost exclusively confined to areas of  disadvantage  shows  that  this  Government,  which has been in power over a period  of unprecedented economic boom has not cherished all the children of the nation  equally.  Instead of investing in all our children s education they have squandered   the   money   left,   right   and   centre,   have  rewarded  their multi-millionaire  sponsors with handsome tax breaks and to add insult to injury are  funding handsomely the private and elitist schools of the rich and powerful which will further inequity in society." ENDS

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