Underinvestment in our education system is prohibiting too many children, young people and second chance learners from reaching their potential. SVP calls on Government to value and prioritise investment in our education system, based on the transformative effect it has on people who experience poverty and disadvantage.
Children’s educational success should not be based on their parent’s ability to pay, but SVP members see how school costs continue to prevent disadvantaged children from participating in school. In Budget 2018, SVP wants to see an end to the practice of ‘so-called’ voluntary contributions through direct investment in schools. In the next five years, an entirely free school books scheme should be implemented – this begins by providing additional funding to existing book rental schemes. Financial supports for parents are also important. A further increase in Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance and making Child Benefit payable to children over 18 years who are still in school would help reduce the stress and strain experienced by parents at back to school time.
“Yesterday I had a litre of milk and a sliced pan to feed my kids. I had to scrape together change to buy butter so we could actually have toast. The reason for this was buying my school books on Tuesday. I don’t know how I will cope next year but something will have to give.”
Costs also remain a barrier to participation at third level and SVP are concerned about the low rate of progression to further and higher education by disadvantaged and non-traditional students. This year, in our Pre-Budget Submission, SVP are calling on Government to reverse the changes to the student grant and expand eligibility to part-time students. This will be a first step to addressing the high cost of education and training faced by low income households.