Sunday 19 May 2019

'It's not fair on the children and parents' - students asked to bring toilet roll to school, says TD

Request in response to rising school costs Photo: (S847/Getty Images)
Request in response to rising school costs Photo: (S847/Getty Images)
Rachel Farrell

Rachel Farrell

Some schools are asking students to bring their own toilet paper to school because of rising costs, it has emerged.

Fianna Fail TD Fiona O’Loughlin, who is chair of the Committee on Education and Social Protection, made the claim at an education meeting yesterday.

The Oireachtas meeting discussed school costs and facilities over a two-day period.

Ms O’Loughlin said it wasn’t fair on students to have to bring their own toilet paper to school.

"I still know anecdotally of children that are requested to bring toilet rolls to school because schools can’t afford to have toilet rolls,” she said.

“It’s not fair on the school on the teachers, on the children or the parents.”

Almost 20 organisations were invited to make presentations and answer questions, including Government departments, charities, parents' organisations, school management bodies, principals' organisations, teacher unions and individual schools.

Among them was the National Parents' Council Primary (NPC), whose preparations for the hearing included a recent survey of almost 1,800 parents.

The costs on parents and families were also discussed at the meeting, with Independent senator Lynn Ruane criticising schools for “shaming" families who may not have the money to pay for supplies straight away.

“One teacher asked a child, ‘it's children's allowance tomorrow, so why don’t you tell your mother to pay it out of that’. This is the shaming that’s going on in classrooms,” she said.

“The children already feel that shame, they watch their parents struggle and then they go into the classroom and teachers further shame them in the classroom, make them stand up and ask why they don’t have their book money.”

Ms O’Loughlin added that while there will always be costs for parents to pay, the government should be making it be as “little as possible”.

“There are always going to be extra costs, so parents may be in the position that they have to borrow some small amount but let's make it as small as possible,” she said.

“They should be able to do it in a way that they’re not completely penalised, or not having to cower at home when the money lender knocks on the door.”

The NPC survey revealed that three quarters of primary school parents have to fork out for voluntary contributions every year- more than €200 in some cases.

Although the Department of Education stipulates that any such contribution should be voluntary, more than half of those parents said they felt pressured into paying.

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