Everyone has a right to education. Education opportunities from a child’s earliest years determines their future life, employment opportunities, income and basic happiness. The provision of education should be free – without “voluntary” contributions – up to at least primary degree level. Professional and technical qualifications should be available at reasonable cost and be equally accessible to all.
Special schemes should be introduced to encourage early school leavers – typically working class teens - to return to education at any stage of their lives. State funded apprenticeship programmes must be re-introduced.
All state funded schools must introduce equality of access for all children, irrespective of religious or ethnic background. Targeted resources must be provided for under-privileged àreas which require extra funding or tuition to ensure equality of opportunity with better off areas.
The re-introduction of third level fees by stealth means that up-front college ‘services fees’ averaging 3,000 euros makes third-level inaccessible for many working class school leavers.
The presence of the new Grangegorman DIT campus in Dublin Central provides amazing opportunities for the youth of this area and I will work to encourage it to provide outreach to our communities and local schools.
Unless the policies of austerity and cutbacks - disproportionately hitting services for young people - are halted all of the above will be in vain, as our well educated youth will continue to emigrate at a rate of 35,000+ per annum.