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Voice of the Commonwealth - The Global Influencer

Voice of the Commonwealth - The Global Influencer

Education budgets never fully recovered from austerity years

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DUBLIN IRELAND – It is actually not always easy to make budget cuts in any part of a curriculum. But it seems that the Irish schools and education saw slashes in their budget that they did not expect because of austerity.

There have been quite a few cuts being made and these are some of the confirmed one’s: teachers’ pay packets, the axing of 200 full-time posts from further education, changes to student grants, and an attempt to make cuts to disadvantaged schools, which was later reversed following the outrage.

The thing is every industry suffered when covid hit. So why is it that it is the education budget is the only one getting slashed. Why aren’t other industries also taking hits. Just as the budget was starting to make gains again, Covid hit, eating up millions in PPE, hand sanitiser, extra classrooms, and resources. Can covid be used as an excuse for this long.

Now a crisis that’s not quite over looks set to be superseded by cost-of-living woes, although the cold classrooms will probably still stay the same, with schools across the country now wondering if they will keep the lights and heat on this winter.

Budget breakdown

The Department of Education had an annual budget allocation of €9.2bn for 2022, marking it out as one of the largest.

“Things like pay and pensions take up a sizeable chunk of the Department’s overall expenditure, as do necessary capital building projects. It doesn’t always leave plenty of room for investment in extra infrastructure, or resources.”

One area that’s likely to be scrutinised is the Department of Education’s allocation of the capitation grant, the funding it provides to schools to cover their day-to-day running costs.

In theory, this should cover the monthly bills. However, many schools need to rely on so-called ‘voluntary contributions’ from families in order to patch holes in their budgets and fully cover their costs for things like heating, classroom resources, and printing.

Concerned now about how they will educate students in a safe and warm manner come winter, primary school managers have called for major increases in capitation funding, calling for an immediate increase in the basic capitation rate by 50%.

Seamus Mulconry of the Catholic Primary Schools Management Association is quoted recently as saying: 

“Parents have been subsidising schools for years, but the bank of mum and dad is not solvent enough to support primary schools. The State must act to fulfil its constitutional obligation to provide a free primary education.”

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