Sinn Féin TD for Carlow/Kilkenny Kathleen Funchion has branded this morning’s Higher Education Authority (HEA) report into educational and social inequality as “conclusive evidence of a need for change”.
Speaking this afternoon Deputy Funchion said:
“This morning’s report by the HEA is indicative of educational and social inequality becoming ever more prevalent in Irish society and shows us a need for change within the educational system.
“We’ve long known, at least anecdotally, that a barrier to accessing to third level education has been the financial means of students, so this is not surprising.
“What was startling however is that people from lower socio-economic backgrounds are being paid less than those from more affluent backgrounds to carry out the same task.
“Much like when we have a conversation about the gender pay gap, such practices are deplorable, and more needs to be done to address it.
“Sinn Féin have a longstanding position of wishing to see Higher Education free at the point of access; and have committed to abolishing third level fees.
“While this is only a start, it ensures that access to education is not dictated by financial means.
“Education in this country has at times been a postcode lottery, where schools in more marginalised areas are not given the supports they require; which perpetuates the problem of educational inequality.
“It is not absurd to state that this is an issue of a social class system that exists, but that many refuse to acknowledge.
“Social disadvantage is something that transcends all institutions of the state and is not limited to the education system.
“The equality proofing of budgets may be one way of making a start on tackling such inequality and takes political bravery.
“Finally, all the children of this state are deserving of equal access, opportunity, and insofar as is possible, equal outcome when it comes to receiving an education.
“We must do more to empower students who require those additional supports, rather than allow this situation to continue indefinitely.
“A holistic approach is required on the part of Government; either that or they make way for representatives that are willing to tackle such inequality head on.