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School costs too much – St Vincent de Paul

By editor - 29 June, 2013

It’s not rocket science – school costs too much. This was the simple message SVP Social Justice brought to the Oireachtas Committee which yesterday launched their Tackling Back to School Costs report. While SVP welcomes the Joint Oireachtas report on the costs of education it is impatient to press on and get real results on […]

It’s not rocket science – school costs too much. This was the simple message SVP Social Justice brought to the Oireachtas Committee which yesterday launched their Tackling Back to School Costs report.
While SVP welcomes the Joint Oireachtas report on the costs of education it is impatient to press on and get real results on the ground. Our members know at first hand how the ongoing costs of education grinds many families down.The report which Aodhán O’Riordán launched yesterday included many of our concerns which we know have a detrimental effect on household budgets.For example, the costs of crested uniforms, unnecessary school book changes, the emergence of digital aids which in some instances has fuelled a rush to high end tablets, school trips, voluntary contributions, curricular activities, the list goes on.

SVP would have been delighted to see this report recommending a Task Force of experts to both devise and monitor all aspects of the emerging trend of ebooks and educational material.

We have deep concerns that even now a digital divide is developing with better off pupils equipped with the latest technology while many families struggle to afford these overpriced and as yet unresearched new tools of learning.
We expect nothing less than a strong lead from this Minister to ensure that equity and value for money are the drivers in this new area and not profit driven publishers or hard and soft ware manufacturers.
Accountability
SVP engaged fully with this Joint Oireachtas Committee report by submitting a detailed submission and speaking directly to the committee a month ago. While we welcome the fact that the report mentions many of our recommendations we are disappointed that the critical issue of accountability in schools has been left vague.We all need to know who is responsible for policy at individual school level. While the Board of Managements are often tasked with decision making, in reality it is the Patronage Bodies which set the agenda.This needs to clarified and changed, given that schools are in receipt of a large chunk of tax payers’ money we need to be confident that they are doing all they can to be as cost conscious as possible to avoid extra expense for parents. We go further and say that the Minister for Education is the ultimate leader and must achieve the changes outlined in this report.

We understand that this report is being sent to the Minister and all relevant stakeholders for a formal response. But we urge him not to delay, he knows what he must do, let’s get on with the work now.

Parents want to be partners in their children’s education and to do that must have more dialogue with their Patron Bodies and Boards of Managements. These bodies need to be clearly accountable to parents.
This report has lots of good, practical ideas. We all know that education is a critical key to get us out of this recession – particularly vital for those who have borne the brunt of the austerity cuts to date.
SVP says that job well begun but not done yet – resources will be needed to deliver on these recommendations and the Minister needs to lead to make this report a reality. He’ll find us willing to help – roll on for action now!By Audry Deane, Social Justice, Saint Vincent de Paul

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