The Society of St. Vincent de Paul (SVP) says the latest figures bring to the fore the level of inequality in our education system, as students in schools in the most affluent areas are up to five times more likely to go to third-level than those in the poorest areas.
“At third level, costs continue to a be a major barrier for low income and disadvantaged students. The increase in the student contribution and cuts and changes to the maintenance grant have put college further out of reach for many students”, says Dr. Tricia Keilthy, SVP Head of Social Justice and Policy.
“These stark social divisions require investments at all levels of the education system. This includes increasing investment in early years services, tackling school costs which disproportionately impact low income children, providing supports for disadvantaged students located outside of DEIS schools, and adequately funding and expanding School Completion and Access programmes” she continued.
The Society which works closely with thousands of students, at all ages and stages, to support their access to education. Its members see at first-hand the multiple barriers children and young people from disadvantaged backgrounds face from pre-school right up to college.
Without the support of SVP many students would not be able to take up a place at college.
Tricia Keilthy said:
“There were some positive initiatives announced by the Department of Education last August that will provide much needed bursaries to a small number of disadvantaged and non-traditional students. But we were disappointed that Budget 2018 failed to reverse the cuts and changes to the SUSI grant.“We know teachers in disadvantaged areas work tirelessly to provide as much opportunities and supports as possible on extremely limited means.“Ultimately, without adequate funding, these inequalities will persist.“A child’s postcode shouldn’t determine their educational success and opportunities. SVP strongly believe that education is a right, not a privilege.”