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Barnardos is disappointed but not surprised to see Ireland fare poorly on education in a new report comparing 28 European countries.
The report, by philanthropic foundation Bertelsmann Stiftung, ranks Ireland 21st out of 28 countries on education equality. Worse still, Ireland is at the very bottom of the table when it comes to the amount spent on pre-primary education. The report specifically criticises Ireland's two tier secondary school system and lack of investment in young children.
Barnardos has long been calling for increased investment in provision of quality early years services and the provision of free primary education as crucial steps to ensure all children are given the best start in life.
June Tinsley, Head of Advocacy, Barnardos said: "The fact that Ireland spends less than 10% as some of its European counterparts on early years is shocking; but for families with small children it won't come as a surprise. Parents see first-hand the result of such paltry investment as they fork out a third of their income each month on childcare fees. The Government allocated less than €30 million in additional funding to the Early Years in Budget 2018. The lack of investment is also felt by Early Years service providers, many of which struggle to balance affordability with the provision of a high-quality and sustainable service.
"Investing in education, especially at pre-primary and primary levels, unlocks children's potential, offsets the impact of poverty and creates a level playing field. It also proves cost effective by saving the exchequer money in the long term. The continued under-investing by successive Governments have short changed children and young people in Ireland."