“The number of parents who find themselves under pressure to find the cash for these payments every September is very significant. The practice of primary schools demanding money from parents is immoral and unjust.
“Every year parents approach me about this issue and inform me of just how difficult it is for them to come up with the funds. They already have the significant costs of books and clothing during the back-to-school period, without getting a bill from the school the first week back, for services the children are entitled to free of charge under constitutional law. The practice needs to come to an end.”
Deputy Daly, who is a former school Principal, believes that the Minister for Education should go a step further and provide funding for free school books and uniforms along with classroom resources. The starting point for this move is the elimination of voluntary contributions which are estimated at €42 million. Mr. Daly says while this figure may seem high it would be a minuscule percentage of a total annual budget of nearly €8.3 billion.
“I do not blame the school authorities for seeking additional “voluntary contributions” from parents, in their efforts to increase their resources. However, there are many parents who feel pressured into paying these monies and are too embarrassed to reveal their financial situation to the local school Principal. Often this demand of payment in early September is leaving the child without other important activities such as music, dancing or out of school camps; this situation is not right.”
Daly concluded by saying he recently received the support of the Fine Gael Parliamentary party for his motion to establish an education ombudsman, and this will be considered in the preparation of the upcoming election manifesto. Jim Daly is currently working with officials from the Department of An Taoiseach and hopes to include the abolishment of school fees in the upcoming programme.