November 6, 2019
Amendment regulating Voluntary Contributions ‘a step towards abolishing them’

Sinn Fein has said that an amendment to the Student and Parent Charter Bill is an “important step to abolishing Voluntary Contributions”.
The amendment would regulate and make publicly available information relating to how much money is collected by schools through voluntary contributions. The amendment was passed this afternoon.
Speaking in the Seanad this afternoon Senator Paul Gavan said;
“This is an amendment which seeks to regulate and collate data pertaining to voluntary contributions.
“It is an outrageous situation that schools rely on these contributions to stay open.
“Some schools are using these voluntary contributions to pay for basics such as light and heat due to underfunding via the capitation grants allocated to them.
“As it current stands the department have none of this data available to them and we think it is important that it should have access to it, and that it is published so we know how much is collected by schools on an annual basis.
“What this amendment would do is to let parents know what is being collected and what this money is spent on; and it would inform us for the first time exactly the shortfall in funding. 
“I think this is a very practical amendment which addresses a data deficit which currently within the department.”
Adding to this Sinn Féin spokesperson on Education Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD stated;
“This is an important step in the direction of abolishing voluntary contributions in schools. As of now we are unaware of how much is collected annually.
“Despite being called voluntary they are often far from that with some schools in dire needs of these funds due to under resourcing.
“This is fundamentally down to funding. A survey carried out the Catholic Primary Schools Management Association says that parents contribute €40 million per annum; but the truth is that we don’t know, and this will help us find that out.
“The Bill will proceed and the Minister needs to amend it further. We will table further amendments ensuring no child can be discriminated against due to an inability to pay the contribution; and to ensure parents are properly informed of their voluntary nature.
“I am delighted that this amendment has been passed this afternoon and hope that this can be acted on as soon as possible by the Minister for Education.”

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