Fianna Fáil Education Spokesperson Charlie McConalogue has said a global study carried out by the Economist Intelligence Unit shows the importance of investment in education and highlights the need to prioritise education in next year’s budget.

According to the report published this week, the Irish education system continues to perform well and is recognised internationally for its high standards.  Ireland ranks 11th out of 40 industrialised countries in the Global Index of Cognitive Skills and Educational Attainment.

Deputy McConalogue commented, “Ireland’s steady ranking in this index is a result of successive Government decisions to prioritise funding for education even when money was tight. We have a strong reputation for tackling educational disadvantage and improving education opportunities for all people.  We simply cannot afford to compromise on these values.

“While this report is positive, it shows that there is absolutely no room for complacency.  The study highlights the importance of good teachers and strong supports for children in the classroom.  It shows the value of attracting highly skilled and highly motivated people into the teaching profession.  Regrettably, Minister Quinn’s two-tier system will not facilitate this. In fact, it will have the opposite effect. The Minister’s policy discriminates against newly qualified, younger teachers with unfair and unbalanced cuts to pay.  There is no doubt that this will make the teaching profession far less attractive to young graduates.

“Fianna Fáil’s alternative budget provides funding to fully protect education spending next year. It also sets aside funds to reverse some of the mistakes that Minister Quinn made with his budget this year, including the cuts to student grants, cuts to rural DEIS schools and cuts to the guidance counsellor provision. I am calling on Minister Quinn to consider our proposals so that we can maintain our strong international reputation as a country that places a high value on quality education.”