Latest press release from the Whitmore lass, issued on Thursday, May 26th 2018…
Social Democrats Cllr. Jennifer Whitmore has said the government must restore capitation rates for primary schools in this year’s Budget to ease the unsustainable burden on parents of subsidising the State’s ‘free education’. Her comments followed a report this week by Grant Thornton which shows that parents are forking out €46 million a year to keep the country’s primary schools running.
Whitmore said “Primary school capitation grants from the Department of Education are supposed to cover schools’ running costs, but this analysis shows this clearly is not the case. The capitation rate was cut from €200 per pupil to €170 per pupil in 2010 and, unfortunately, no progress has been made to reverse that. This means that the grant only funds 42 percent of the running costs of a small school, 50 percent of an average-sized school and 61 percent of a larger school. As a result, many of our schools are struggling to meet their basic overheads such as heat, lighting and insurance.”
“Schools are forced to turn to parents and the local community to cover these costs. However, this is just not sustainable. Parents are already under enormous pressure to pay their educational bills. The 2017 Barnardos School Costs Survey found that nearly half of all parents said they had to forgo household bills or cut back on daily expenses in order to meet their children’s educational expenses. This puts huge stress on parents, and it is unacceptable. Our Constitution says that the State will provide free primary education – yet the costs many parents face shows that we are failing children and families when it comes to this most basic and fundamental provision. The Minister for Education needs to ensure that this year’s Budget includes the restoration of the annual capitation payments for primary schools.”
“In the Social Democrats’ Alternative Budget last year, we put the cost of introducing genuinely free primary education at €103.2m in a full year. This includes a restoration of capitation payments to 2010 levels. It would also mean that families would not have to cover the costs of funds for text books and workbooks, and it would deliver free transport for students who qualify for the School Transport Scheme.
“If we want the best education system in the world for our children, we need to invest.”