Following the release of Barnardos’ annual survey of the costs of returning to school, Labor Cllr Fiona Bonfield says it’s time to make education truly free.
Cllr Bonfield commented: ‘It is time for this government to change dramatically and see a movement to make education truly free. From the Barnardos report, it is clear that the increase in the back-to-school allowance is just tinkering around the edges. Many worried parents in Tipperary have contacted our office asking for help at this really difficult time for families. What is needed is for the state to provide books, shoes, uniforms for the children in September.
“More than half of respondents confirmed that the rising cost of living is making this year more difficult in terms of back-to-school costs. The cost of living is not an abstract concept and families in Tipperary really feel it in their pockets.
“In April, Labor called for the budget to be brought forward in anticipation of the summer pinch point for parents. A labor budget would make textbooks free for all school children. At an estimated cost of 40 million euros for the State, this would represent good value for money in terms of equal opportunities for all children. This would have a real impact on families in difficulty.
“In addition to the material needs of school children, parents are expected to pay huge voluntary contributions. This is another financial bloc when it comes to raising children, as confirmed by the Barnardos report. Voluntary contributions are a sign of an underfunded education system and place an unfair burden on families. They have to go.