6 August 2002
``Government worsens class division in education'' - Crowe
Sinn Fein spokesperson on Education, Seán Crowe TD, speaking at today's USI press conference in opposition to the 69% increase in capitation fees introduced by Education and Science Minister Noel Dempsey, said the government was deepening class divisions in the education system:
"Free education is a myth. The education system continues to mirror and maintain social division and exclusion. The government is now worsening class divisions in education. Children from disadvantaged backgrounds are still extremely unlikely to reach university and are more likely to leave school early.
"According to the Higher Education Authority there has been no significant improvement in the number of school-leavers from disadvantaged backgrounds reaching university over the past five years. Of 14,000 students graduating from universities in this State, only 2.2% come from households headed by an unskilled or semiskilled worker.
"The abolition of university fees has done nothing to help the children of the least well off to get into college. They still cannot get to the starting line because of the prohibitive costs of going to college. And the decision to increase capitation fees by 69% will make this situation even more difficult. I am calling of the Minister to rescind this decision and to address the issue of equal access to education from pre-school right through to third level. In the short term the Minister should increase the student maintenance grant to social welfare levels.
"We also need radical action to control rents in the private rented sector and to provide student accommodation as high rents are hitting students especially hard."
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