Budget 2019 fails to deliver for education

'Excessively cautious and stubbornly rooted in an austerity mindset'
 

TUI’s initial response to Budget 2019 - Tuesday, 9th October 2018. Comments from TUI General Secretary John MacGabhann.

Putting today’s education measures in their proper context

‘Today’s announcement does not come within shouting distance of the additional investment required to provide meaningful, transformative change for the education system.

The effects of an era of cutbacks will continue to be felt and to inflict damage on the educational experience of students and on the teaching profession, not least on the careers of new and recently qualified teachers.

Look behind Government spin, and the latest figures show that Ireland is bottom of the pile in terms of total education expenditure in international terms (joint last of 33 OECD countries), with just 3.3% of GDP invested here compared to the OECD and EU averages of 4.5% and 4.2% respectively. At second level, our spend is just 1.1% of GDP compared to the OECD average of 2%.

The failure of successive Irish governments to invest appropriately in Irish education represents a continuing, sustained attack on the most vulnerable families in communities across the country.’

Increase in teacher numbers

‘Any increase in teacher numbers is welcome, but the adjustments at second level highlighted today do nothing more than keep pace with the continuing rise in student numbers.’

Third level funding

‘The additional €57m in current funding announced for higher education is woefully inadequate and will do very little to boost a sector that has been devastated by steep funding cuts. The failure of Government over successive years to make the necessary investment has had an extremely damaging effect on the working conditions of academic staff, on student experience and on the positioning of Irish institutions in international rankings. Denial of the oxygen of public investment is choking the life of a prime national asset.’

‘Wellbeing’

The recruitment of an additional 10 psychologists to the National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS), while welcome, will not meet the additional demands generated by an increasingly challenging societal environment for students.

Schools still have greatly diminished ‘first responder’ student safety frameworks (compared to before the austerity cuts). Students, especially vulnerable students, are suffering as a consequence. Middle management capacity, the mainstay of student support structures, has been slashed. It is an indictment of this Budget that there is no provision at all for restoration of that capacity. Guidance counselling provision also needs to be increased.

Failure to end pay discrimination

‘It is regrettable in the extreme that today’s Budget does not, for once and for all, end the scandal of discriminatory pay. TUI members are currently being balloted on a proposal on new entrant pay, which, at best, represents a step on the road towards full restoration. Irrespective of the ballot outcome, the TUI’s campaign will continue until pay equality has been delivered.’

A failure to harness the education system’s potential

‘Investment in education pays huge dividends to society in economic terms.  Yet again, our policymakers have failed to acknowledge this.

Summary of TUI's Pre-Budget submission below
 
It is a core principle of TUI that the social contract be maintained as the underpinning construct for Irish society and, by extension, for public policy, including budgetary policy. Central to the social contract is the equitable provision of high quality health, education, housing and other social services and protections so as to ensure that all our people can live in safety, with dignity, and are enabled meaningfully to participate in and contribute to Irish society, according to their respective talents.
 
In this context, it is a cause for concern that the damage inflicted by recession-era public spending retrenchments have led to imbalances and inequalities that threaten social cohesion. It is the view of the TUI that Budget 2019 should have the declared aim of cultivating a rooted sense of social cohesion and solidarity.
 

The key elements of the Union's pre-Budget 2019 submission are set out below.

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