Sinn Féin spokesperson on Education, Sorca Clarke TD, and spokesperson on Higher Education, Mairéad Farrell TD, have said that government must now take action to make education genuinely free and accessible to everyone.
They were commenting after a Sinn Féin motion on the issue, which called on government to cancel its planned increases in student fees and to expand the Free Book Scheme to include secondary schools, was passed in the Dáil this evening.
Teachta Clarke said:
“I welcome that the government has this evening passed Sinn Féin’s motion, which called on them to cancel their planned increases in student fees and to expand the Free Book Scheme to include secondary schools.
“But what we now need to see from government is action. Education costs are an even bigger worry for many this year as the cost of living crisis continues, and there has been an appalling legacy of underfunding by successive governments in the education sector.
There are things that the government can and must do to ease the pressure on parents and students.
“Primary and post-primary education in this state is intended to be ‘free’, under constitution and legislation, but is a total myth in reality.
“Government can and must extend the School Books Scheme to post-primary schools – that would at least be one meaningful step to ease the financial burden on parents of post-primary students who are already worried about back-to-school costs now.”
Teachta Farrell said:
“There are too many young people who are simply locked out of education.
“There should be no barrier, such as contribution charges or any other charges, that hold back anybody who wants to access third level education.
“We must work towards making education genuinely free and accessible to everyone – student fees should be phased out completely.
“But in the short term, I am calling on government, having passed our motion tonight, to cancel the planned increase to student contributions charges and instead reduce fees in Budget 2024.”