Tuesday 24 October 2017

Cost of education is spiralling out of control

By Esther Hayden

Cllr Deirdre Wadding.
Cllr Deirdre Wadding.

Single mother of three Deirdre Wadding knows all too well about the high costs associated with so-called free education.

'My youngest son is going into fifth year this year and my older two are in college. But I remember when they were all in school together how expensive it was. Before I became a member of Wexford Borough Council I received the Back to School allowance from the state and even with that it was a struggle.

'Without assistance it was very expensive. The costs associated with first and fifth year are horrendous because you have the whole cycle of books coupled with things like crested uniforms and the so called voluntary contribution not to mention other expenses.

'Every year it's a horrendous burden. Last Monday I had to miss meeting of Wexford Municipal District because I was offered a day of freelancing work and I simply had to take it. Hopefully that will pay for the books needed this September.

'As a mother I know first hand that things are spiralling out of control when it comes to school costs. I remember when one of my girls was in the Loreto and I received a letter home from the school reminding me that I hadn't paid the voluntary contribution and as a result of the tone of that letter I simply stopped paying it.

'I thought to myself sod this. I'm done trying to scrape up this money and I was being made to feel very small. It really got to me. I was really scraping money together to educate my children and the tone of that letter really got to me.

'I'm a fairly confident person but a less confident person would have been made to feel very humiliated and put themselves under horrendous pressure to pay that so called voluntary contribution.

'Parents have to get clever though and they are going to have to start putting their foot down. It's supposed to be free education but it isn't. I heard a primary school principal on the radio on Monday last talking about the level of funding that is provided by parents and it's no joke.

'It's really inequitable and schools in affluent areas and those who are able to fundraise do better. It's as simple as that.

'My background is in primary teaching and I've only just registered with the Teaching Council again to try get some subbing work. I remember fighting as a student teacher and as a teacher for smaller class sizes but instead they are increasing. It's horrendous.

'Like housing, like healthcare this is all squarely down to the idealogical choices made by Central Government. As a result schools have to ask for help. Maybe we have to get more militant and shut down the schools.

'People can't afford to live and pay the running costs of our schools and hospitals. Everything is reliant on society's goodwill, volunteers and fundraisers. All long as we keep that going all the balls will keep moving in the air and that gets the Government off the hook.

'One of the biggest problems I have is Apple getting away with the non payment of taxes. It's ridiculous and protectionism of businesses while parents are facing increasing costs and tearing their hair out because they can't afford to send their children to school.

'Maybe they are also facing homelessness because their rents have increased or their landlord is selling up. They could have a myriad of crisis all at the same time and that is kicking onto mental health which is a huge issue.

'These problems have been engineered by the choices made by right wing, corporate driven Governments. If we don't start thinking about rebalancing society the problems will only escalate and we will have more poverty, more deprivation and more suicide. We cannot underestimate the force of pressure on someone who is desperate.'

Wexford People

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