Fianna Fáil’s Education spokesperson Charlie McConalogue says education is at the heart of his party’s pre-Budget plans for 2015. The proposals, published today, will support and enhance our education sector by investing in key areas, particularly at primary level.
Deputy McConalogue commented, “Fianna Fáil believes that investment in education pays a huge dividend, and following three years of harsh cutbacks, the sector is in need of a funding injection. Small schools have borne the brunt of the regressive education cuts brought in by former Minister Ruairi Quinn, and I believe that those measures should be reversed. Our proposals would see resources to these schools re-instated as well as a reduction in the pupil-teacher ratio from 28:1 to 27:1 across the board at primary level.
“The special needs sector has been consistently under funded by this Government with inadequate supports for the most vulnerable children in our society causing much anxiety and stress for thousands of families across the country. Our proposals will see teaching resource hours increase from 85% of Special Education Review Committee recommended allocation levels to 92.5% between now and 2016. We also provide for the allocation of additional resource teaching hours for children with Down Syndrome.
“Real progress had been made by successive governments with regard to support services for students at second level but reductions in guidance counselling provision is leading to a two tier education system, with children from economically challenged and immigrant backgrounds less likely to get the support they need to progress through second level and advance successfully to third level education. We need to urgently address this divide and ensure that all schools have qualified guidance counsellors to provide support and advice to students.
“Fianna Fáil wants to see the Minor Works Grant placed on a permanent footing. The grant provides funding for essential maintenance work such as school repairs, painting and IT maintenance. The grant was paid as a once off last year, but many schools have been forced to run up debts to pay for basic upgrade works over previous school terms. Our submission sees the fund restored on a permanent basis.
“Education provides the opportunity for personal, social and academic development and needs to be adequately funded. Fianna Fáil has a proud tradition of investing in education and these latest proposals will act as the cornerstone to advance our plans for the future”.