Tuesday 11 December 2018

Labour calls for ban on voluntary contributions to schools

Costs concern: Senator Aodhán Ó Ríordáin. Picture: Collins
Costs concern: Senator Aodhán Ó Ríordáin. Picture: Collins

Laura Larkin and Katherine Donnelly

Parents may be avoiding events in their children's school in case they are "chased" for a voluntary contribution, according to Labour's education spokesperson Senator Aodhán Ó Ríordáin.

He said there was anecdotal evidence of parents being reluctant to turn up at events, including meetings with teachers, for fear of facing the embarrassment of being asked about paying a contribution.

There were also reports of parents turning to moneylenders to meet the cost of sending their children to school, he said.

The former primary school principal made his comments as he launched a Labour campaign for free primary education, including free school books and a ban on voluntary contributions.

As the school year nears an end, parents are being given book lists that will, on average, cost €85 per child.

In many cases, they are being asked for additional contributions to cover the shortfall in State funding for running costs, he said.

Although there is a constitutional commitment to free primary education, Mr Ó Ríordáin said that right had not been vindicated in any real way.

He said in light of statements about fiscal space, now was the time to put it right.

"The State is neglecting its duty when it comes to the provision of free education," he said.

"The relationship between parents and schools should not be a financial one. There should not be conversations about money, book rental scheme money or voluntary contributions - they should be purely and simply about education."

Irish Independent

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