Fianna Fáil Education spokesperson Charlie McConalogue TD says today’s budget will continue to undermine education services at primary, secondary and third level.
Deputy McConalogue commented, “The failure of the Government to provide funds in today’s Budget for the payment of a minor works grant will leave a hole of €9,500 in the average primary school next year. This is money which schools will instead be forced to fundraise from hard pressed parents and local communities. It’s omission from the education budget is further proof that the once-off payment of the grant in advance of the recent local elections was nothing more than an election stunt.
“Cuts of 1% to student capitation payments at primary and secondary level will also pile additional financial pressure on schools, while the provision of more teachers at primary and second level will merely accommodate the increased number of students in our schools.
“The measures announced today make no departure from the approach taken by Minister Quinn in recent years. The number of teachers being recruited will only serve to keep things at a standstill and maintain the pupil teacher ratio at the current level.
“It’s disappointing that Minister O’Sullivan could not secure the resources necessary for smaller classes at primary level, something which Fianna Fáil included in its budget submission. By her own admission, a one point reduction from 28:1 to 27:1 in the pupil teacher ratio at primary level would have cost just €15 million.
“The fact remains that next September we will continue to see very crowded classrooms in our primary schools and the Minister has offered nothing more than stagnation.
The Donegal North East Deputy also expressed his disappointment at the fact that no moves have been made to undo the damage done by the Government to our small rural schools over the past three years.
“The Government and the department have been engaged in a deplorable campaign against small rural schools. Many of these schools are teetering on the brink of survival because of the punitive measures and cuts contained in the last three Budgets; however the Government remains indifferent to their plight and to those of the rural communities they serve”, he added.
“Third level students will see the government increase their registration fee by a further €250 next year. This will see them forking out €3,000 a year to attend college.
“Today’s budget is a massive disappointment to all those who believe in investment in education. Minister O’Sullivan has failed to deliver and will oversee further reductions in education services in the coming year”.