Sinn Féin spokesperson on Education, Sorca Clarke TD, has today once again urged the government to extend the School Books Grant Scheme to secondary school students.
Deputy Clarke’s renewed call comes after the results of a Barnardos survey, published today, found that it costs almost €1,000 to send a child to attend first year in secondary school.
Teachta Clarke said:
“With the weeks ticking down to when school doors reopen at the end of the month, the harsh realities of spiralling back-to-school costs is now really hitting home for families across the state.
“This was further highlighted by the stark findings of the Barnardos survey published today.
“With so many already struggling in a cost-of-living crisis, with eye-watering energy bills and increased mortgage repayments, families need a break from back-to-school costs now.
“Sinn Féin fully supports Barnardos’ call for extension of the School Books Grant Scheme to secondary schools, and the government must act to ensure that families get this support urgently, as September is approaching quickly.
“This was an ask contained in a Sinn Féin motion in June. We welcomed that the government did not oppose this motion, but the Minister for Education Norma Foley has failed to act since to ease the financial pressure on families sending their children to school.
“Extending the School Books Grant Scheme to post-primary schools would be one meaningful step she could take now to ease the financial burden on parents of post-primary students.
“The reality is that ‘free education’ in this state is ‘free’ in name only. It is a myth.
“Parents are already trying to budget for significant additional costs – for everything from uniforms to devices, from books to transport.
“On top of all of this, parents are being asked to pay hundreds of euro in so-called ‘voluntary contributions’ because of the legacy of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael’s failure to properly fund our education system.
“Each and every one of those costs will be felt sharply, putting already hard-pressed parents to the pin of their collar.
“Sinn Féin is clear on what we would do to ensure that education is free, accessible and properly-funded schools.
“We have a plan to cut back-to-school costs and to end this financial pressure on families.
“We would introduce affordable school uniforms, expand the School Transport Scheme, and ensure that every child has access to a hot meal in school and stop families being pressured into paying voluntary contributions.
“The government must act to make education genuinely free and accessible to everyone.”