The Society of St Vincent de Paul (SVP) welcomes the decision by the Minister for Education, Richard Bruton to require the school authorities to adopt “principles of cost-effective practice” across a range of key areas but argue that the measures are not sufficient to address the financial burden placed on parents by school costs.
SVP primarily advocate for significant investment in Ireland’s underfunded education system. Cuts to the School Capitation Grant in recent years means schools are struggling to the cover day to day expenses.
An increase in this grant will ultimately benefit parents and children.
SVP has continually campaigned for a reduction in the various participation costs of education which many low income families simply cannot afford; school books, uniforms, and so called ‘voluntary contributions’. SVP welcome practical options for parents such as waivers, staged payments for various costs, book rental schemes, generic uniform options and other parent friendly approaches which are administered discretely and confidentially.
The cost of sending children to school continues to place a very heavy burden on thousands of families already struggling on a low income. SVP members regularly visit families who often put off paying other bills, fall into debt or sacrifice expenditure on food and other essential items to cover these costs. Parents often juggle their low incomes to meet the myriad of demands during the school year for events, exam costs, curricular based sport and music costs, trips and equipment.
Households struggling to cover school costs are dispersed in the population and their children do not conveniently always attend DEIS schools where there can be additional supports.