Educate Together welcomes Fine Gael’s proposal to develop 300 non and multi-denominational schools by 2030, and Labour’s proposal, released this morning, to develop 100 multi-denominational schools by 2021. Both of these commitments echo Educate Together’s priority for a national network of 300 equality-based primary schools for Ireland.
However, Educate Together states that these election pledges will surely fail unless political parties are willing to properly fund and resource them.
Paul Rowe, CEO, Educate Together: “Right now, Educate Together offers a practical, achievable plan to embed equality in the education system: a national network of Educate Together primary and secondary schools. We are willing and able to work on opening these schools, but this cannot be done on well-intentioned policy documents and goodwill alone. Funding is needed.”
It is a fact that the level of progress by the outgoing Government in providing alternatives to Ireland’s religious-run schools (96% of the current system) barely scratches the surface of what is actually needed. This is because proper funding is simply not made available:
- the current grant for every new primary school is just €10,000. This means that Educate Together has to raise €85,000 for each new primary school it opens. State funding for new schools must be increased.
- the State currently offers zero funding for the opening, establishment and support of Educate Together’s second-level schools. This needs to change.
- the outgoing Government has insisted that the divestment programme be a ‘no cost’ one. This means that just a handful of Educate Together schools have opened up in divestment areas, with 19 areas remaining. The acceleration of the divestment programme must be funded.
There is a groundswell of public opinion that is now demanding equality in education, and evidence of parental demand for equality-based schools is undeniable. Families nationwide have chosen Educate Together as their favoured model of education and many in this constituency of parents will be voting in accordance with this priority.
Educate Together has plans to work with communities and other providers to open hundreds of new equality-based schools, to transform the Irish education system for the children of today and tomorrow. For this to happen, and for the political commitments of parties like Fine Gael and Labour to become a reality, State funding streams must be put in place to fund education equality.