Sinn Féin spokesperson on Education Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD has commented on the publication of the annual Irish League of Credit Unions Back to School Survey.
The survey has highlighted that 63% of families are finding the costs of returning to school each year a financial burden, with parents now spending on average a whopping €1,500 per child at secondary level.
Teachta Ó Laoghaire said:
“Whilst the Constitution enshrines a right to free primary education for all children in Ireland, it is becoming increasingly clear that ‘free education’ in Ireland is a myth.
“In reality, the annual ILCU survey has again shone a light on the hidden costs and fees associated with sending children to school; which place a crippling financial burden on parents.
“The crisis caused by the pandemic has illustrated that our education system is completely underfunded, and is being heavily subsidised by families.
“The ILCU’s survey noted that a quarter of parents are forced into debt in order to give their child equal access to education, through meeting the costs of voluntary contributions, uniforms, books and school transport.
“Parents make every effort to cover these costs, often at the expense of their own personal needs. It shouldn’t have to be this way.
“71% of schools continue to seek voluntary contributions from parents. In reality, these contributions are voluntary in name only.
“It is alarming, that due to government underfunding, parents are being asked to pay over €100 or €200 in voluntary contributions just to keep the lights on and the heating going in their children’s schools.
“The reality is that the piecemeal supports provided by successive governments have done little to ease the financial burden of parents and families. Sinn Féin will be bringing forward proposals this summer to tackle back to school costs for families.”