School Costs Survey 2016: Briefing Paper

Barnardos. (2016). School Costs Survey 2016: Briefing Paper.
Education is not free in Ireland. That is the overwhelming message from parents who took the 2016 Barnardos’ School Costs Survey. For more than a decade thousands of parents have been using the Barnardos’ School Costs Survey to speak out about the high cost of sending their children to school and this year is no different. Ireland’s education system is lauded by Government as free to access; but the responses to this year’s survey tell us otherwise. Under-investment in schools during prosperity and cuts during the recession have left parents shouldering the cost of an underfunded system. It is a burden many parents can ill afford. Parents told us they are scrimping on household bills, forgoing necessities and even going into debt to pay for their child to go to school in Ireland’s supposedly free education system. No child or family should have to suffer in order to access education. As we approach the first Budget of a new Government the time is ripe for change. The Partnership Government has committed to increase education spending by €500 million by 2021. This is a welcome commitment, yet divided out through the whole education system and across five years it remains to be seen what kind of impact it will have on the costs parents face. It is the Government’s responsibility to adequately fund education - not parents’. All children deserve an equal chance at a bright future and education is crucial in realising this. Education provides the frame upon which a child’s life and opportunities will be built. Making access to education dependent on a parent’s ability to pay is fundamentally inconsistent with the ideals this country was founded upon; equal rights, equal opportunities and the commitment to all children of the nation being cherished equally.