By Jimmy Rhatigan
BORN FREE, you must be joking.
That could well have been the reaction of a local councillor who has lashed out at our Government following revelations that local families, including many cash-strapped parents, are subsiding education to the tune of €46million a year.
North Kilkenny Councillor Pat Fitzpatrick said the Government would not pass any examination on school funding as they were simply not providing the money promised towards the education of thousands of young boys and girls.
He added that in so many other spheres of Irish life, the tab was being left for families to pick up.
Generous families, already helping to keep community charities afloat, are bearing the brunt of the cost of vital scanning equipment for our hospitals and now it has emerged that tax-paying mothers and fathers are forking out millions to help primary schools.
The latest revelation has angered local councillor Pat Fitzpatrick who criticised Government for failing to deliver on its commitments of increasing school capitation payments.
He gave vent to his feelings following the publication of a report by Grant Thornton which showed that parents have to dig into their pockets to keep the doors open in primary schools.
The report found that the capitation grant paid by Government to schools did not come close to covering running costs such as lighting, heating and cleaning.
“This report paints a bleak picture and demonstrates how parents are forced to cover the day-to-day running costs of schools right across the country, “ North Kilkenny’s Pat told The Reporter.
“The study has highlighted the stark reality that the capitation payments the Government makes to schools si9mply do not come close to paying bills. It shows that our long established tradition of providing education is being undermined.
“There was a clear commitment made in the Programme for Government to give an annual increase in capitation to schools to help meet day-to-day running costs and reduce the over reliance on payments from parents.
“Government has failed to delivered on this commitment to date. Parents are still expected to shell out large sums of money to keep the lights on in schools. This is unacceptable,” Pat continued.
“Minister Richard Bruton needs to get real about tackling the shortfall between the capitation payment made to schools and the annual bills that schools have to meet.
“Primary schools get €170 per head for pupils while secondary schools get €300 per student.
“The capitation payments must be increased and rates need to be set out on a rolling three-year basis to give school bosses the certainty they need to plan for the future.”