Friday, August 06, 2010

Thoughts turning to going back to school ...

Well, its that time of year again. Summer hols are drawing to a close and thoughts are turning to going back to school/college.

So what type of schools and colleges will we and our children be going back to? Unfortunately, the picture is not a good one. For a start we'll have 353 fewer Special Needs Assistants (SNA's), and 30 of our most disadvantaged schools will lose librarians. The recruitment embargo continues, and funding of the entire University sector is in crisis. It is a bleak scenario. The Universities are being asked to manage record numbers of students with greatly reduced resources. Dublin City University president Ferdinand von Prondzynski summed up what one might call an appalling vista for the sector by saying the Universities will “be under further pressure to add to the student numbers while losing yet more money and having fewer staff to teach them".

Education cuts in Budget 2010 meant that overall spending on education was reduced by €603 million in 2010 (link.). Unfortunately, the bulk of these cuts were focused on the poor, the disadvantaged, the disabled, and VTOS students going back to education. Even those wanting to study Clynical Psychology are being hit (see my previous blog post for details on this).

Specific cuts to the budgets of educational bodies in 2010 are as follows;
* National Council for Curriculum and Assessment reduced by €0.93m;
* National Council for Special Education reduced by €2.3m;
* Higher Education Authority reduced by €0.562m;
* Dublin Dental Hospital reduced by €0.410m;
* Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies reduced by €0.546m;
* Royal Irish Academy of Music reduced by €0.303m;
* National Qualifications Framework (NQAI, FETAC, HETAC) current allocation reduced by €2.1m;

So we have a lot to be proud of in our Island of Saints and Scholars. Although I suppose we cant really claim to be "saints" anymore because the poorest and most disadvantaged in our society are being hit with the hardest cuts, whilst the highest paid civil servants have their incomes protected. And we cant really claim to be "scholars" anymore either as our education system is crumbling around our ears.

Maybe we should adopt a new name ... something that more accurately reflects the reality of the way we are today. How about "the Island of inequalities and gombeens"? That seems to fit a little better. And we have the Green Party and Fianna Fail to thank for that.

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