Belfast SY Public Meeting on why you should fight for socialism
Thousands of secondary school students awaited A-level and GCSE results anxiously last month. Again it was another record-breaking year for Northern Ireland students who again improved on the previous years results. But even pupils who have achieved top grades will be forced to compete for the miniscule amount of university places on offer. This, and the fact that the education budget faces cuts of 25% this year, leaves tens of thousands of young people in the North without any access to education or a decent job.
By Patrick McGeown, Socialist Youth Lurgan
Conor Barr, Belfast SY
Student fees in the North are set to rise from £3,000 to £3,145 in the new university semester. But some university bosses are still not happy with that, threatening they want to raise fees to as much as £10,000 a year.
Before the Assembly was established the main sectarian parties said they opposed tuition fees. But they have suddenly dropped their opposition to fees since they got their hands on power.
Education is a right not a privilege. Economic background should not be a factor in deciding who should be “entitled” to education. Tuition fees are clearly an attack against working class young people. Most working people now cannot afford to finance their sons and daughters through university. This increase in fees will further cut off working class youth from being able to continue their studies. Recent figures show that the amount of people applying to study at universities in Northern Ireland is falling.
Socialist Youth fights for the scrapping of student fees, free education for all and a living grant for all students. Capitalism can’t deliver education for all, it is only interested in making profit. That is why the fight for free education also needs to be a fight for a socialist future.
By Kate Relihan, INTO Dublin North West, (personal capacity)
The government has backed down from imposing compulsory metered water bills on schools after anger and opposition from the teachers unions and parents to bills, some of which were as high as €10,000.
However, the government is determined to impose water charges on all schools and is implementing an incremental flat rate fee per pupil from 2007 until the full charges are imposed in 2010.
The fees for 2007 are €3 per pupil, €3.50 for 2008 and €4 in 2009. Minister for Education Mary Hanafin had promised a doubling of the schools’ capitation grant at last years INTO conference. Instead the government increased the grant by a miserly 20% – but even this small increase will be wiped out by the water charges.
This is an outrage as most primary and secondary schools are already crippled by decades of neglect and under-funding. Primary schools only receive €6,000 a year for running costs, and are wholly dependent on parents’ contributions to make up the shortfall, which for some schools runs into thousands. Parents are already forced to contribute to a litany of fundraising events to fill the gap between paltry state funding and real expenditure. This will inevitably have a huge impact on pupils, who will now have even less funding for crucial educational resources.
This inordinate stealth tax, which parents shall inevitably have to pay, is an absolute disgrace and the government‘s attempts to use the EU Water Framework Directive as an excuse for imposing water charges on schools is even more nauseating. The government also claims that it is the best way to improve water conservation in schools. What utter nonsense. The best way to improve water conservation in schools is by educating our children, not by financially penalising their parents!
Implementation of these charges should be met with outright opposition. An organised, nationwide campaign of teachers, parents and pupils against the water charges can defeat them. Schools should refuse to pay the charges, including the flat rate charge. This is the best way to force the government to scrap them.
If Fianna Fail and their Green partners get their way we will all be paying water charges and as Mary Hanafin said herself – “If we had water rates in Ireland families would be paying €700 to €800 per annum”.
By Garrett Mullan
SuperValu have been criticised by teachers and principals for operating a scheme that cynically exploits the lack of sports equipment in primary schools.
Supported by the Irish Sports Council with the endorsement of the Department of Education, Supervalu is one of a number of companies operating schemes that purport to assist schools. In their publicity blurb, Supervalu claim the scheme is school-centred and worth €2million over two years.
What it is in reality is a company loyalty scheme and it is worth a lot more to SuperValu than it is to schools. This scheme is founded on the principle that the more you spend the more resources for your child’s education!
Schools are once more invited to promote a supermarket brand to students, their parents, relatives and neighbours in order to implement the P.E. curriculum which the government no longer provide equipment grants for. A brief example of the parental spend required at SuperValu illustrates plainly what is expected of schools and how “free” this equipment it.
Gaelic Football = €3,950 worth of shopping / Online retail price €18
Rugby Ball = €2,690 worth of shopping / Online retail price €13
Tennis Racket = €3,090 worth of shopping / Online retail price €25
Tesco have also been running a “Computers for Schools” programme, exploiting the underfunding of schools IT resources.
The scheme offers a “FREE” Apple 17inch iMac (Retail price = €1,400) to schools who spend €261,600 at Tesco! The Campaign points out that the actual contribution to schools from each €10 spent by parents at Tesco is approximately 0.04 cent – 4/100th of a cent!