Investment Needed to Break Cycle of Educational Inequality
Barnardos congratulates primary school children across the country on being the best at reading in Europe and the OECD according to the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study. But when considered alongside figures released today flagging disparity in higher education participation rates, it is clear the path to educational achievement stops short for many.
June Tinsley, Head of Advocacy, Barnardos said: “We’re delighted to see primary school children in Ireland achieving the highest level of reading ability across Europe and the OECD, it is also great to see a drop in the number of children with only a basic level of reading. This is a testament to the dedication and hard work of teachers, parents and children themselves, and clearly demonstrates the potential that all children have.
“However, investment is clearly needed across the education system to ensure that all children of varying abilities and backgrounds have an equal opportunity to achieve a high level of education. The ‘league tables’ released today show great disparity in the numbers of students progressing to third level education, with students in the most affluent areas of Dublin being up to five times more likely to progress to third level education than those in less advantaged areas. Noteworthy is that half of the top twenty schools that send the most students on to third level education are fee paying.
“These figures illustrate how a family’s ability to pay for educational supports really does impact a child’s educational attainment. We know from our annual school costs survey that parents with children in primary and secondary schools are expected to make significant financial contributions to help support underfunded schools, meaning schools in areas where parents can make greater contributions can end up with better facilities and a broader educational experience. This is not fair. A parent’s ability to pay should not pre-determine a child’s level of educational achievement. Barnardos has calculated that with just an additional €103m it would provide a genuinely free primary education for all children, providing all textbooks and workbooks, eliminate voluntary contributions or classroom resources fees, provide free transport for those using the School Transport Scheme and restore the capitation rates back to 2010 levels. This level of investment in education is crucial if we want the best results for all children.”