21st November 2002
Time to make education a number one priority
Sinn Fein spokesperson on Education and Science Deputy Seán Crowe, speaking at the launch of the party's pre-budget submission said: Today, thousands of schoolchildren are going to schools the government acknowledges are unsafe, dangerous and unhealthy. Many of these are in areas of intense deprivation. And Minister McCreevy believes it's time to cut spending on maintenance and repair of schools.' Deputy Crowe said it is time to make education a number one priority.
Deputy Crowe said:
We are constantly reassured by this government that it places great importance on education The recent OECD on education exposed the fact that the state's pupil-teacher ratio at primary and second level is among the worst of the 27 countries surveyed. It also notes that the Irish exchequer invests far less per pupil than other states. It is in primary and secondary level that the inequalities that result in under-representation of working class young people in university are created. The only explanation the OECD had for the highly educated students we have was the dedication of an undervalued teaching profession.
The Estimates last week merely confirmed what we have always suspected, this government is not interested in prioritising education. Long before the Estimates, at the start of September, Minister Dempsey cut ¤14 million from the very people who need support to get into education for the first time or revisit it i.e those who finish second level early, the disadvantaged and adult learners.
Sinn Fein believes that education has a fundamental power to transform society in a way that perhaps, nothing else can. We make no apologies for calling for massive increased investment in education. We make no excuses for wanting a state where education is our number one priority.
Today, thousands of schoolchildren are going to schools the government acknowledges are unsafe, dangerous and unhealthy. Many of these are in areas of intense deprivation. And Minister McCreevy believes it's time to cut spending on maintenance and repair of schools.
As I said in Leinster House last night, any child in a schoolyard can tell you that a bully picks only on those who are smaller and more vulnerable than him. At heart, bullies are cowards, they re afraid to make the tough decisions. The choice is simple, he can take on the weakest in society or he can take on big business and make them pay their share. Does anyone doubt which choice he will make on December 4th?
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