Speaking in the dáil today on a private members bill on the protection of small schools, People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett TD said small schools are a vital part of communities across the country that have already been ravaged by cuts to a range of local services.
(Video of the Richard Boyd Barrett speaking in the debate this evening, see above)
Following a meeting with the Troika today it is clear that the policies of privatisation and cuts are set to continue.
The loss of these schools would have a lasting detrimental effect and dire social consequences on the surrounding community. The logistics of possible amalgamations and school closures have not been thought through. The long term effect of these cuts could in fact cost the state more, through necessary increased transport costs, the expansion of existing school buildings and much more, which would follow any amalgamations or closures.
If the government were to get away with the proposed cuts to small rural schools, struggling families will be the ones to bear the brunt of the increased transport costs, fundraising for new classrooms and children will be crammed into already overcrowded and inadequate school buildings.
On top of cuts to SNAs and resources for groups such as Travellers this is another short-sighted and cruel proposal.
In these times it is often claimed by the government that they don’t have a choice in the matter- that there is no alternative- but there are alternatives- For example: a recent report by Revenue Commissioners states that if they were allowed €6m to employ staff they could bring in €100 million per annum in uncollected taxes. This alone would mean there would be no need for these cuts
In his statement, Richard Boyd Barrett TD said, “In 2008 Ruairi Quinn speaking in the dáil, said that education cuts being proposed by Fianna fail were ‘a life sentence for children, their parents and grandparents’ and would do “irreparable damage”.
“Minister Quinn also said that investment in education was ‘a building block for future prosperity and social cohesion’ and would do “irreparable damage”. I would like to remind the Minister that this is still the case in 2012.”
“We should be defending every job and all services in our education system. The Labour/Fine Gael government intention to slash public education services comes directly from the rightly despised McCarthy Report of 2009.
A viable and sustainable small school is one which serves its community no matter how small the enrolment. In the context of the McCarthy report „viability‟ equals cost-effectiveness and financial considerations, rather than social and educational considerations.
We should reject attempts to place financial viability as a benchmark of whether to retain a service in our schools or not. We are venturing down a very dangerous path- which could threaten much more than just our small schools. What might be the next educational service or support that the government might consider “not cost effective” or “viable”?