Tuesday 25 July 2017

Myth of under-funding exposed as a lie

Young boys hard at work in Artane Industrial School in the 1940s where the children were taught a trade
Young boys hard at work in Artane Industrial School in the 1940s where the children were taught a trade

Eilish O'Regan and Dearbhail McDonald

CLAIMS that a lack of finances was partly to blame for cases of neglect in some of the most notorious industrial schools was exposed as a myth in the report of the Ryan Commission.

The large boys' schools with big productive farms and trades work geared to meet their needs were well resourced -- yet the young children in their care were often the most neglected, the commission's investigation committee found.

"These schools should have been able to provide a good standard of care. However, the evidence indicates that children in these schools were some of the most poorly provided for."

For example, Artane had a sizeable farm and a significant number of trades which boys did as part of their training.

The farm income in the 1960s was IR£122,122 with a surplus of IR£49,256.

Similarly, the income at Ferryhouse industrial school exceeded its spending by the euro equivalent of €26,901 over almost 30 years to 1969.

The adequacy of funding to provide for the care of children to the standard needed by law was examined in the Mazars's report and given to the investigation committee.

It found some schools "struggled valiantly" to survive and some did not. But the Department of Education made no distinctions between both in negotiations.

Dominated

Larger schools dominated the debate although the Department of Finance did see that not all institutions were the same and sought to distinguish those in "genuine need".

However, it discovered the Resident Managers' Association, the representative body for the schools, did not co-operate and many children were condemned in the less well resourced institutions to "needless poverty".

It pointed out it was the responsibility of the Department of Education to ensure adequate funding for the provision of minimum standards of care for children in the care of the State.

The funding system was based on a capitation grant per child in an institution. It questioned why this capitation system persisted for so long after its abandonment in England.

It was clear a switch to a budget system of funding the schools was more efficient and of greater benefit to children.

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