June 19, 2023
Education must be genuinely free and accessible to everyone – Sorca Clarke TD and Mairéad Farrell TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Education, Sorca Clarke TD, and spokesperson on Higher Education, Mairéad Farrell TD, have said that government must intervene now to make education genuinely free and accessible to everyone.

They were speaking ahead of a Sinn Féin motion on the issue, which will be debated in the Dáil on Tuesday, where Sinn Féin is calling on government to cancel its planned increases in student fees and to expand the Free Book Scheme to include secondary schools.

Teachta Clarke said: 

“Education costs are an even bigger worry for many this year as the cost of living crisis continues. There are things that the government can and must do to ease the pressure on parents and students. They need to act now. 

“Primary and post-primary education in this state is intended to be ‘free’, under constitution and legislation, but the reality is profoundly different.

“According to the most recent Irish League of Credit Unions ‘back to school costs’ survey funding back to school continues to be a challenge for parents, with 66% saying that covering the cost of back to school is a financial burden. 

“School books remain one of the most expensive items for parents of secondary school children, with an average associated cost per pupil of approximately €210 per year.

“I am calling on government to expand the Free Book Scheme to include secondary schools to ease the financial burden on parents who are worried about back-to-school costs.”

Teachta Farrell said:

“Education must be genuinely free and accessible to everyone.

“Despite barriers to education continuing to hold back students at third level, the government, incredibly, intends to increase student fees this September. 

“Cost should not be a barrier to accessing further and higher education – student fees should be phased out completely.

“But in the short term, I am calling on government to cancel the planned increase to student contributions charges and instead commit to reduce fees further in Budget 2024.”

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