Sinn Féin Finance Spokesperson Deputy Pearse Doherty has called on the Government to make greater efforts aimed at restoring the levels of grant money paid to schools in order to help them to meet their day-to-day running costs.
Deputy Doherty was commenting following a response he received from the Minister of Education to a Parliamentary Question in which the Donegal TD highlighted the difficulties being experienced by schools in Donegal simply to cover basic operating costs.
Deputy Doherty said: “Capitation grants are paid to schools for each pupil enrolled and the money is designed to be used to assist schools cover the cost of general day to day expenses, such as lighting and heating.
“While the rates paid to schools vary, they were cut during the recession and today the standard payment at primary and post-primary levels remain at €170 and €296 respectively.
“The cuts imposed by successive governments have resulted in an 11% reduction in the overall capitation paid to schools since 2011 and, despite the fact the Government has said that it is committed to restoring capitation rates, Budget 2018 did nothing to address the shortfall in funding.
“In the Budget announced last October, the Capitation Grant was not increased and this failure to provide additional funding to schools is having a very significant effect on their ability to meet their overheads.
“I regularly hear from Principals in schools throughout Donegal who are struggling to cover the basic costs of running their schools. As a result, parents are increasingly pressured to make up the shortfall through ‘voluntary contributions’.
“In my party’s alternative budget launched last year, Sinn Féin proposed increasing school capitation grants per pupil by 5% at a cost of €10 million, which would have went some way towards offsetting the current shortfall, while at the same time reducing pressure on parents.
“Clearly, in order to have a truly world leading education system then the Government must provide schools with the necessary resources needed to meet both financial demands and capacity pressures in order to ensure that every child can reach his or her full potential.
“This is why I am committed to continuing to work closely with all schools, parents and boards of management to press upon the Government the urgent need to increase Capitation rates going forward so as to enable schools to meet the needs of their pupils and to lessen the financial burdens many of our schools currently face.”Tags: