Sinn Féin Education spokesperson Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD has this morning said that both regulation and transparency on voluntary contributions paid by parents of school children is a must.
Teachta Ó Laoghaire said;
“It is deeply regrettable that yesterday we seen Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil combine to remove a Sinn Féin amendment to the Student and Parents Charter Bill. This would have seen transparency and some regulation regarding the collection of voluntary contributions, and how that money is spent.
“The amendment was an important step forward, and key to understanding how much our schools are being under funded. So I am very disappointed that Fianna Fáil have now backed the Government to take it out of the Bill
“These funds can be substantial, with over half of secondary school parents being asked to give payments of more than €100.
“This is clearly far from voluntary. Almost 80% of parents are pursued for payment, and if it isn’t paid it can have a very real impact on a child’s education.
“According to a report of the Joint Oireachtas Committee, it can be required for acceptance of a school place, it can mean children not being allowed access to extracurricular activities, lockers, and other facilities.
“Every child, regardless of their income deserves equal opportunity for education – so called voluntary contributions fly in the face of that. This is not the fault of schools, who are left short financially but the Government who substantially underfund it.
“The very least that is required is regulation and transparency. I will be seeking to reinsert this amendment when the Bill comes before the Dáil.
“It’ll be up to Fianna Fáil to explain to parents why they do not support transparency around this issue. I hope they will reconsider their position.”