Sinn Féin spokesperson on Education and Skills and Cork South Central candidate Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire has launched Sinn Féin education proposals in Cork today.
He said that Sinn Féin’s proposals would eliminate the burden of exorbitant education costs for parents and students alike.
Mr Ó Laoghaire said that the cost of education is coming up a lot on the doors, with many parents extremely angry about the failure of Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil to deliver on special educational needs.
Speaking from University College Cork this morning, he said;
“With the cost of attending third-level education set at €3,000 per year, and outrageous Back to School costs of hundreds of euros, or even over a thousand euro per child, it is clear that free education is a myth in this State.
“Sinn Féin is committed to equal access and opportunity for all students to study whatever course they believe suits them, without financial barriers.
“The most recent research from the ERSI demonstrates how children are subjected to a lottery of birth when it comes to educational attainment.
“While not a hard and fast rule, children from more affluent areas are far more likely to attend third-level institutions than those who live in what are considered to be more marginalised communities.
“Sinn Féin has a long track record of delivery in education, and we view education as the greatest tool to deliver equality and change.
“We believe in free education and will deliver it, for all.
“We will introduce free school books, give every family a Back to School bonus child benefit payment of €140 every July, and tackle the cost of uniforms and school transport.
“We will abolish third level fees, and ensure that our Universities are properly funded, as well as ensuring students get adequate grants; while also reforming the grant system itself.
“Our proposals will ensure that primary and secondary schools are properly funded, and aren’t forced into the Dickensian situation of having to fundraise to keep the lights and heat on. This will in turn eliminate the practice of so-called ‘voluntary contributions.
“We will ensure pay equality, and decent pay for SNAs and School Secretaries; and will end the two-tier pay system, acknowledging that the work of younger teachers is just as valuable as their more senior colleagues.
“Anyone that has canvassed during this election will be very aware of the frustration that parents with children with special educational needs face in trying to get school places, assessments as well as support and treatments.
“Sinn Féin in government would ensure that there are enough places in Special Schools and ASD Units.
“As well as tackling assessment times, we will ensure that all the resources and therapies required are provided to ensure that children with special educational needs can be given the education they deserve.
“We are committed to an education system that is fair, equal and one that does not discriminate against students; regardless of socio-economic background or academic ability.
“Fine Gael in government has shown no vision for education.
“Sinn Féin will deliver an ambitious programme of investment and reform to deliver free high quality education for all.
“We are committed to empowering our next generation of young people, and wish to see them prosper.”