Treating all children equally: economic inequality in education

All children should benefit from our education system regardless of socio-economic background. Schools should be properly funded by the State. 

Child poverty rates in Ireland doubled during the recession years. Today one in every five children is at risk of poverty, while 9 per cent are in consistent poverty. The rate of child homelessness has nearly tripled in the space of three years and more than one in three people in emergency accommodation is a child. (Source: CRA & Focus Ireland)  

The Irish Primary Principals’ Network (IPPN) surveyed over 1,000 school principals in 2018 and found that 27% are currently making educational provision for children living in homeless accommodation. Schools reported that children living in homeless accommodation are suffering from poor physical and mental well-being, low self-esteem, exhaustion, and feelings of isolation that affect their school attendance, engagement, and participation (IPPN, 2019). 

There can be no equality of opportunity in education without equality of condition. The link between socio-economic deprivation and educational inequality, in both the long and short term, is well established. A child’s socio-economic background remains a strong determining factor in how well they do in school day-to-day and how much they will earn as an adult. 

We regularly hear heart-breaking reports from our school communities who are swimming against a tide of inequality; despite their best efforts some of the most vulnerable students in the country are being let down by our education system.  

This is why Educate Together is calling on candidates and parties to commit to working to ensure that no child is limited by their socio-economic background and that all children are in a position to access and benefit from our education system. We are calling on candidates to commit to ensuring that ‘free education’ means free education and to take meaningful action to tackle child poverty. 

You can can share your experiences on our Facebook page and @EducateTogether Twitter account using the hashtags #GE2020#AllChildren and #EducateTogether. You can also email Educate Together candidates’ interactions:

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