Donegal TD Pearse Doherty has backed a motion calling on the government to drastically reduce school class sizes.
One in five primary school children are in a class of over thirty pupils. Sinn Féin is bringing forward a motion to begin a process of reducing pupil numbers in the classroom and to ensure that the roadmap to reopen schools during Covid-19 is adequately resourced.
The motion also seeks a dedicated strategy to support students who have fallen behind in recent months.
Teachta Doherty has called for support for his party’s motion being debated in the Dáil this week which he said will ensure schools get the financial and logistical support they need to reopen safely.
Teachta Doherty said class sizes have been “far too high for too long and are now unsafe.”
He said: “I welcome that the Department for Education has now finally published a roadmap. However, this was long overdue and I am concerned that the Department’s delays leaves teachers and parents just weeks to organise.
“We have a huge task ahead of us and this will be made harder without proper investment for schools. We need proper investment, not just short term fixes to see us through the next few weeks or months.
“While it is true that no-one could have predicted the scale and manner of the Covid-19 pandemic, we also must acknowledge how failure to invest in our schools has put them in a particularly vulnerable position which meant many were already stretched close to breaking point.
“For decades, we have seen chronic underfunding of schools. This has brought us to a position whereby we have some of the highest class sizes in Europe.
“It has also resulted in schools being understaffed and deprived of basic resources.
“While all of these things have been unfair for many years, due to the pandemic this is now not only unfair but also unsafe as huge class sizes make it almost impossible to follow public health guidelines such as social distancing.”
Deputy Padraig MacLochlainn and Deputy Pearse Doherty are calling on all TDs in Donegal to back the motion when it comes to the Dáil for a vote on Thursday.