Dáil Éireann - Volume 625 - 10 October, 2006
Written Answers. - Educational Disadvantage.
Ms C. Murphy Ms C. Murphy
Ms C. Murphy asked the Minister for Education and Science the steps she will take to reduce the de facto cost of schooling here in order to increase equal access to education for all children in view of the recent report of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child which highlighted the committee’s concern on this matter; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31602/06]
Ms Hanafin Ms Hanafin
Ms Hanafin: A key focus of the Government’s education policy is to prioritise investment in favour of those most at risk and to optimise access, par ticipation and outcomes at every level of the system for disadvantaged groups.
The overall provision for expenditure on education has more than doubled since 1997. The allocation for that year was €3.2 billion as compared with €7.9 billion in the current year.
The total provision for educational inclusion programmes in 2006 is more than €640m across all levels of education, as compared with almost €600m in 2005. This includes additional funding for the implementation of measures under the DEIS action plan at pre-school, primary and second-level.
DEIS (Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools) addresses the educational needs of children and young people from disadvantaged communities, from pre-school to completion of upper second level education (3 to 18 years). The new action plan represents a shift in emphasis away from individual initiatives, each addressing a particular aspect of the problem, with the new plan adopting a multi-faceted and much more integrated approach.
Its core elements comprise: a standardised system for identifying, and regularly reviewing, levels of disadvantage; and a new integrated School Support Programme (SSP) which will bring together, and build upon, some ten existing educational inclusion measures. As a result of the identification process, 840 schools were invited to participate in the SSP. These comprised 640 primary schools (320 urban/town schools and 320 rural schools) and 200 second-level schools. A further 40 schools have been invited to join the Programme following a recent appeal process.
Under DEIS, additional financial support is being provided for all primary and second-level schools in the School Support Programme. All schools will also have access to the School Meals Programme, administered by the Department of Social and the Department of Social and Family Affairs.
An additional €1m is being made available under the School Books Grant Scheme in 2006/2007 for primary and second-level schools in the School Support Programme to support the establishment, development and ongoing operation of book loan/rental schemes.
Dáil Éireann 625 Written Answers. Educational Disadvantage.