Echo Letters: Free education assertion is an insult to parents paying back-to-school costs

By Echo Reader

Dear Editor,
IN its 11th annual school costs, children’s charity Barnardos said the education system has “inequality and unfairness” at its core, while assertions of free education are an “insult” to parents covering back-to-school costs as the government fails to address the systemic lack of equity.

Some parents benefit from low-cost book rental schemes with inexpensive generic uniforms accessible, while other parents are obliged to purchase all their children’s books and equip them in expensive crested apparel.

managing cost of back to school chalkboard image

The survey found one in ten parents is obliged to go into debt to defray back-to-school costs, with the average cost of sending children to school amounting to €340 for a child in senior infants, €395 for fourth class pupils, and €775 for a child in first year of secondary school.

And 42 per cent of parents shuffle household bills or forego them to settle back-to-school costs, with one in 10 forced to go into debt, borrowing from friends, family, banks, and credit unions, many from extortionate money lenders.

Barnardos chief executive Fergus Finlay said: “For just €103m [the Government] could provide all primary school books, remove the voluntary contribution, eliminate classroom resources fees, restore the capitation rates back to 2010 levels, and provide free transport for those using the School Transport Scheme".

Many of the 1,500 parents surveyed expressed “feelings of anger and frustration. They told us the lack of consistency in education costs is symptomatic of an education system which has inequality and unfairness at its core,” he said.

Yours sincerely,
Gerry Coughlan,
Kilnamanagh.

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