EDUCATION Minister Ruairi Quinn’s efforts in reversing proposed staff cuts at disadvantaged primary schools have been described as a “fiasco” by Sinn Fein’s Cllr Maurice Quinlivan.
Minister Quinn last week announced that 235 of 428 teachers covered by the DEIS (Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools) programme would now be retained after they were proposed for the axe in the budget.
But Minister Quinn made plain that the €2.8 million cost to retain the posts would have to be met through deeper cuts in capitation grants to every primary school. Many have already complained this will result in schools struggling to pay electricity and heating bills from September.
While welcoming the “partial victory for fairness and equality” represented by what he termed Minister Quinn’s “U-turn”, Cllr Quinlivan said that the solution would “basically pitch one child against another”.
“This entire episode has been a fiasco for the Government and the decision to reverse some of the cuts to DEIS schools announced in December’s budget shows how unjustified this decision was in the first place,” said Cllr Quinlivan.
“It was an attack on some of our most vulnerable children and came at a time when literacy and numeracy standards in our schools had fallen dramatically. In Limerick City, there are 22 such DEIS schools across the city, 16 of them catering for primary school children. All of these schools were under threat of cuts. In the primary school in Moyross alone, it was anticipated that at least five teachers could have been lost through these cuts.”
While schools in the most acute pockets of disadvantaged have now been given a reprieve, there will still be staff cuts at DEIS schools outside of the top two bands.
“The Minister is also bringing forward the decision to reduce the capitation funding for primary schools in 2012. This in effect will mean a €5 cut for every child,” said Cllr Quinlivan