"No family should go hungry simply for a child to be able to attend school" - Kathleen Funchion
Sinn Féin Education spokesperson Kathleen Funchion TD has today expressed her extreme concern at the burden placed on parents of children in school following the release of the Irish League of Credit Union’s survey on the cost of education.
Deputy Funchion will be launching a document later in the week outlining Sinn Féin's position on how to tackle debts related to education.
The Carlow-Kilkenny TD said: “Sinn Féin recognises education as a fundamental human right. Children, regardless of economic or social background, should be able to access the education system.
"With 36% of parents being forced into debt, it couldn’t be clearer that the Irish education system is at risk of becoming an elitist and unaffordable luxury. This is a disgrace.
“According to the Irish League of Credit Unions report, parents are paying almost €1000 at primary school level and well over that for secondary school students.
"From voluntary contributions to school books, parents are paying extortionate prices for the fundamental basics of education.
“Sinn Féin are committed to doing what this government are clearly not interested in – we would ensure every child could afford to go to school and every parent could send their child to school with no need to borrow.
"We hope to relaunch our Voluntary Contributions Bill in the new Dáil term which would hopefully see no parent being forced to pay a so-called ‘Voluntary’ sum of money to their child’s school.
"Hopefully, this will help ease some of the financial burden on parents.
“The fact that parents are significantly more worried about the cost of education when compared with concerns over their child settling into school or making friends is shocking.
"Education should be free and parents should be allowed to focus on their child’s mental health and wellbeing.
"Almost one third of parents have said they will forego other spends to fork out the costs for their child’s return to school – some even mentioning food and household bills as items that would have to be reduced.
"This is not good enough. No family should go hungry simply for a child to be able to attend school.
“Sinn Féin will continue to fight for a €50 increase to this allowance – we included it in our budget proposal last year and will be including it again this year.
"The children of low-income parents should not be discriminated against.
“This government is ensuring that the financial burden of education lands solely on the shoulders of already overworked and underpaid parents.
"This government is ensuring that children from low-income families do not have the same educational opportunities that their peers get.
"This government does not seem to care. This is not fair, it is not right, and Sinn Féin will fight them every step of the way.”