Budget 2018 does not undo damage caused by cutbacks

By piofficer, Tuesday, 10th October 2017 | 0 comments

The Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI) has said that today’s Budget does little to reverse the damaging effects of austerity cutbacks on the education system.

Comments from TUI’s President Joanne Irwin.

Previous cutbacks still having a negative impact 

‘An era of cutbacks has inflicted severe damage on the educational experience of students and the career prospects of recently qualified teachers.

While today’s Budget contains some modest positives, it falls far short of the considerable additional investment that must be made if the stated aim of the country’s education system becoming the best in Europe in a decade is to have any credibility whatsoever.’

No provision to tackle pay inequality

‘Budget 2018 is silent on the pay inequality that exists between those who began in the profession before and after 2011, despite it becoming increasingly difficult for schools to employ teachers in particular subject areas when they can secure better paid work in other employments. Last month, TUI members overwhelmingly rejected the proposed Public Service Stability Agreement over its failure to appropriately tackle this unacceptable situation.’

Failure to address lecturer workload issues

‘The Budget fails to follow through on a collective agreement to address the critical issue of workload within Institutes of Technology, where academic staff are required to deliver hours far in excess of international norms at a time when funding has plummeted and student numbers have spiralled. Their workload is disproportionate, unfair and unsustainable.

Last month’s OECD Education At A Glance indicators show that Ireland spends over 30% less on tertiary level education than the OECD average, and the additional funding announced for the sector falls far short of what is required. We reiterate our proposal that corporation tax be increased by a percentage point from 12.5% to 13.5% by way of a Higher Education Levy. This would allow corporations to make an entirely appropriate and meaningful contribution to the public education system from which they derive huge benefit.’

Further and adult education

‘Just last month, the latest OECD Education At A Glance indicators showed that Ireland has a considerably higher number of 18-24 year-olds neither in education nor employment (18.2%) than the OECD average (15.3%).

In this regard, Ireland’s public further and adult education sector, which has a proven track record in both providing standalone qualifications and offering routes to further study, should have been facilitated in tackling this growing problem with direct, targeted investment.

It is also deeply disappointing that there was no move towards removing the €200 charge for PLC courses that continues to act as an impediment to participation for many students.’

Teacher numbers

‘While welcome, the increase in teacher numbers at second level should come as little surprise. The increase is required because of the ongoing rise in student numbers.’

Guidance counselling provision

‘It has become increasingly difficult for schools to make timely interventions to support students struggling with an educational or personal crisis. We welcome the additional posts, but the total number of guidance counsellors will still be less than it was before the original 2012 cutback at a time when student numbers have increased significantly. The most vulnerable students will continue to suffer as a result of this deficit.’

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