Fianna Fáil’s spokesperson on Education & Skills Charlie McConalogue has wished Ruairi Quinn well for the future, following the announcement of his resignation as Minister for Education & Skills.
Deputy McConalogue said, “Ruairi Quinn has had a long and distinguished political career, spanning over 30 years. He served in numerous Ministries and can be proud of his political contribution to this country. I wish him well in his future endeavours.
“However, in this Dáil, I believe his tenure as Education Minister has been disappointing, leaving several unfulfilled and broken promises in his wake. The education system has deteriorated across primary, secondary and third level under his leadership and significant repair work is required in order to restore and improve services.
“At primary level, Minister Quinn has led a sustained attack on small schools in particular, with consecutive education budgets focusing on cuts to the half of all schools which have four teachers or less. He has also left many schools struggling to survive following the removal of vital grants such as the summer works scheme, minor works grants; as well as sustained cuts to capitation funding. These moves have transferred the pressure of funding our schools from the Department to already financially limited families who are now required to pick up the slack.
“The Minster’s approach to the much needed and much welcomed reform of the Junior Cert was unnecessarily confrontational. He chose to ignore the views and recommendations of teachers and parents groups, which has left the reform process mired in industrial dispute.
“At third level, his broken promise to reduce college fees to €1500 has been replaced with a programme of increases, which will see fees doubled to €3000 by the end of this year. This, coupled with the abolition of post grad grants, renders third level education inaccessible for many lower and middle income families.
“The appointment of the next Education Minister must be taken as an opportunity for a new direction, and include a genuine effort to protect and enhance education services. Education will continue to be the key building block for future development and prosperity of our country and the Government must acknowledge and recognise that in its approach to education investment and policy.