Fianna Fáil has fully protected funding for education services in its alternative budget for next year.

The party revealed its proposals for Budget 2013 in Dublin this week, setting out fully costed proposals to reverse this year’s cuts to third level grants, reverse the cuts to rural DEIS schools and restore the career guidance counsellor provision at second level from next September.

The party’s Spokesperson on Education Charlie McConalogue explained, “We have prioritised education services in our alternative budget plan.  Our proposals fully protect funding for education services and reverse some of the mistakes that the Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn made in his budget this year.

“The Fianna Fáil alternative budget allocates €10 million in 2013 to reverse the damaging cuts to third level grants introduced by Minister Quinn this year.  In light of the significant hardship imposed on students following the botched implementation of SUSI, and the hardship caused by the annual increase in the student registration fee, we propose to reverse the 3% cut in student grant introduced this year.

“In addition to this, we have set aside €5 million to restore the career guidance provision at second level from September.  When this measure was announced we said it would lead to the dismantling of the service.  It has become clear since September that schools are struggling to maintain a counselling service and that it’s having an impact on mental health supports for our young people.  We want to see a gradual reinstatement of the guidance provision.

“We have also set aside €2 million to reverse cuts to rural DEIS schools.  Minister Quinn admitted that he made a mistake to target DEIS schools for significant cuts this year, but following a review he decided only to partially restore the posts to DEIS band 1 and DEIS band 2 urban primary schools. This review did not consider the cuts rural DEIS schools.  We believe it was deeply unfair to leave out rural disadvantaged schools, which are still struggling with significant cuts because of the Minister’s ‘mistake’.

“Fianna Fáil has put education at the heart of our budget proposals because we believe investment in education, equal access to third level education and tackling educational disadvantage are key to sustainable economic growth.”