Gary Gannon TD

School-related costs putting household budgets under severe pressure

Radical reform is required in next week’s budget to make education in Ireland genuinely free, according to Social Democrats TD Gary Gannon.

Deputy Gannon, who is the party’s spokesperson on Education, said:

“Parents throughout the country know that the concept of free education is nothing more than a myth, with school-related costs putting household budgets under severe pressure.

“In the Social Democrats’ alternative budget, we have proposed a range of measures which, if adopted by the Government, would see a genuine free education system.

“This can be done by fully funding schoolbooks and other classroom resources, as well as increasing the capitation rate to eliminate the need for voluntary donations. In addition, we want to see all fees abolished for school transport schemes.

“To achieve this, we estimate it would cost an extra €113m and €140m in primary and second level schools respectively – this would represent just a 2 percent increase on the overall €12bn education budget for 2022.

“We are seeking an extension of hot meals to all DEIS primary schools, along with a 20 percent increase in the programme budget to improve food quality.

“Investment will be required to reduce class sizes in our primary schools. The average class size in Ireland is 23.3 pupils, compared with an EU average of 20. The Government should aim to reduce this by one in each of the next four years.

“There should be an ambition to phase out third level fees over time, starting with a €500 reduction from September 2023.

“If our proposals are taken on board by the Government, Budget 2023 could have a transformative effect on the lives of families with school-going children who live on the margins.”

September 22, 2022

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