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Financial burden on parents of education costs must be lifted

The high costs of sending children to school need to be lifted so that parents are not being forced into debt to cover basics, the Social Democrats said today.

Party co-leader Róisín Shortall TD was commenting on new research that shows that the average cost of primary school education is €766 a year. The Cost of Education in Ireland survey by Zurich Life shows that primary school education is 80% more expensive than parents expect and that 52% of parents find the cost of covering primary school education a strain, with 18% getting into debt to cover the costs.

The survey also showed that secondary education averages €1,629 a year, with 68% of parents finding covering the costs a financial burden, and 34% getting into debt to cover the costs.

Deputy Shortall said:

“Many parents are clearly struggling to find funds for books, lunches, uniforms, school trips, after school activities and grinds. For some the struggle to keep up with these costs means that they are getting into debt and then have to cope with the stress and worry that comes with that.

“This pressure could be relieved if we invested in books, transport and the running of schools. We need to also restore school capitation rates back to 2010 levels so that schools no longer feel the need to ask parents for so-called ‘voluntary contributions’. Barnardos have costed these measures at €103.2m in a full year at primary level. We believe that this kind of investment would be money well spent in the future of our children and would do a lot to lift the financial burden on parents.

“Our Constitution says that the State will provide free primary education – yet the costs many parents face today shows that we are failing children and families when it comes to this most basic and fundamental provision.”