Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Education and Skills Charlie McConalogue TD has called on the government to protect education services in Budget 2014.
The party launched its budget proposals this week, which protects funding for education services, mental health services and supports for people with disabilities.
Fianna Fáil’s plan prioritises special needs education, provides additional resource hours for children with Down Syndrome and reverses the cuts to small rural schools, said the Inishowen Deputy.
“We have put education at the heart of our Budget 2014 proposals. We are sending the message to government loud and clear that it is possible meet budgetary targets next year without cutting supports for children with special needs, without attacking small schools and without introducing yet another hike in the student registration fee,” said Deputy McConalogue.
“The Education Minister Ruairí Quinn needs to learn from the mistakes he has made in the past. The last two budgets were highly regressive in the area of education. The most vulnerable children in the school system were hit with cuts to support – children with special needs, children in disadvantaged areas and teenagers in need of one-to-one attention at second level.
“Students were hit with two further increases in the college registration fee by a Minister who promised to reverse fee hikes. Post-graduate grants were abolished and the SUSI fiasco caused severe hardship to tens of thousands of students nationwide.”
He claims that Minister Quinn has been forced into a series of u-turns on some of these regressive cuts.
“However, there are still DEIS schools that suffered cuts to resources; children with special needs have seen a further reduction in SNA supports again this year; the abolition of the career guidance allocation at second level remains in place and has resulted in a dramatic reduction to one-to-one supports for vulnerable teenagers in the school system; small schools in rural communities across the country are now under threat; and students will be hit by another €250 increase in the third level registration fee next year.
“These highly damaging cuts are not necessary and they must stop. There is no reason why education services cannot be protected in Budget 2014. The government can choose to put a high value on education, and place it at the heart of their budget plan for next year,” said Deputy McConalogue.