The Dáil will this afternoon debate Fianna Fáil proposals aimed at avoiding a repeat of the mistakes made in the Education Budget this year and last.
Under the Education Budget Transparency Bill, the Education Minister of the day would be required to carry out an impact assessment of planned cuts to education resources, in order to avoid unintended consequences in the future.
Fianna Fáil Education Spokesperson Charlie McConalogue explained, “The Education Minister Ruairí Quinn has been forced to admit that he made ‘mistakes’ with his budget in the past. He admitted that his decision to cut 428 DEIS posts was wrong, and that he hadn’t realised the full impact of his decision before it was announced.
“Maybe the Minister also didn’t realise that removing the ex-quota allocation for guidance counsellors last year would result in a massive 51% reduction in one-to-one supports for secondary school students since September, with disadvantaged schools suffering an even greater cut. People are struggling to understand how the Minister could stand by such a sudden and significant removal of counselling supports for teenagers at a time of growing public concern over the increasing prevalence of mental health problems among young people.
“Perhaps the Minister also hasn’t realised the hugely damaging consequences of his targeted cuts to the further education sector in this this year’s budget. There is no doubt that what is a essentially 10% cut to the teaching force in PLC schools will result a reduction in courses, a reduction in places and a reduction in education and training opportunities for school-leavers and those looking to up-skill in order to get work in this country.
“This Bill is aimed at avoiding such budgetary mistakes. It is crucial the Education Minister of the day has a full understanding of the impact of his decisions on the future of our young people. By ensuring that the Minister carries out an impact assessment of major budgetary proposals, we can avoid unintended and potentially damaging consequences in the future.”