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