Educate Together, Ireland’s equality-based school patron, is today calling for all political groupings involved in negotiations for the next Programme for Government to show real commitment to educational equality.
During the election, candidates and parties agreed to establish a fairer and more pluralist school system. For these commitments to be honoured, dedicated text must be written into the next Programme for Government. For this, Educate Together suggests the following:
'Within its current term, this Government commits to the provision of 300 Educate Together national schools and 30 Educate Together second-level schools around Ireland; schools that treat all children equally at the school gate and within the classroom.
The Government commits to a ring-fenced funding stream of €10 million each year within the Department of Education and Skills to support the building of new equality-based schools and the divestment, reorganisation or amalgamation of existing school facilities.’
Educate Together suggests these lines in the certainty that it will break the near monopoly of religious-run schools (96% of the current primary system). Our aim is that all families have access to an equality-based school within 30 minutes travel time from their home, schools where all children are welcome and no children are segregated on the basis of religion during the school day.
Commenting on this, Paul Rowe, Chief Executive of Educate Together said:
“Educate Together is willing and able to work on opening a national network of equality-based schools, but this cannot be done on goodwill alone. Funding is needed and we are asking the next Government to commit to annual ring fenced funding for educational equality.”
The level of progress in establishing more diversity and inclusiveness in the school system by the outgoing Government barely scratches the surface of what is actually needed. To meet the demand for Educate Together schools proper funding must be made available for new schools and for the divestment process.* Currently, the State currently offers zero funding for the opening, establishment and support of Educate Together’s second-level schools. This needs to change.
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 made during the election to become a reality, State funding streams must be put in place to fund educational equality.