18 September 2022
By Tom Collins
So called ‘voluntary contributions’ could spiral out of control unless Government invests in schools – Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Education, Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD, has again called on the Government to take action and help families who are struggling with “voluntary contributions.”
Teachta Ó Laoghaire said:
“With the rising cost of living, parents are struggling more than ever to meet the costs of their children simply attending school
“We know schools are under pressure because there is a lack of funding. This was the case prior to the cost-of-living crisis, where the funding wasn’t enough to meet running costs and obviously now schools will have bigger bills.
“One cost that puts huge pressure on families is the school voluntary contribution.
“Year on year, families are being crippled by requests for contributions of very often well over €100 or €200 per child, and even as much as €300-400 in some cases.
“These are huge sums for families to be expected to pull together – particularly at the same time as rising costs of energy, fuel, groceries – and put serious strain on families’ finances.
“We know that in reality, these contributions are voluntary in name only. In some instances, students and families can be denied certain services and extra-curricular activities and they can face stigma.
“The reason that this is happening is because the government has consistently underfunded our schools to the point that they feel they have to fundraise just to cover the basics. It has to end.
“Sinn Féin is committed to significantly increasing capitation to schools in our alternative budget.
“Schools are facing a fuel and energy crisis and it is a shameful situation that parents are expected to shoulder this and that schools are forced to fundraise just to keep the lights on and pay the energy bills.
“I note the calls by the national Parents Council urging the Government to scrap voluntary contributions and for these to be replaced by adequate funding in running the day to day costs of schools. They are acutely aware of the pressures families are under and it’s not grossly unfair to ask parents to subsidise our under-funded education.
“We have proposed a bill which sets out a pathway to identify the funding shortfall schools face and to ensure capitation levels are adequately restored by Government.
“Unfortunately, the Government inexplicably voted to delay by 9 months our legislation to end voluntary contributions earlier this year. While it wouldn’t have resolved all the issues, but at least the process would have now begun.
“We will ensure our alternative budget addresses the issues of capitation and we will keep pressure on Government to deliver.”