Matt Carthy brings Dáil Bill to regulate school contributions and end unfair pressure on families
Cavan Monaghan Sinn Féin TD, Matt Carthy, has this week published legislation which will regulate voluntary school contributions which, he says, are placing unfair financial pressure on families.
Deputy Carthy wrote the legislation alongside his party’s Education spokesperson, Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire. Among other measures the new law would prevent families being singled out for not being able to meet these often crippling costs associated with ‘voluntary contributions’.
The Sinn Féin representatives have also called on the government to fund the education system properly, so that schools do not feel the need to fundraise to cover basic costs.
Teachta Carthy said:
“Too many families are facing a cost of living crisis. On top on high rents and mortgages, high insurance costs and increasing energy bills families with school-going children are also faced with the costs of books, uniforms and school transport. This time of year can be an absolute nightmare.
“This week, I and my colleague Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire have published legislation to ease one pressure on families by tackling so-called voluntary contributions.
“This week, as children return to school, thousands of families will be getting requests from schools for voluntary contributions, which can put huge additional pressure of their finances.
“Year on year, families are being crippled by requests for contributions of very often well over €100 or €200 per child, and even as much as €300-400 in some cases. These are huge sums for families to be expected to pull together in a matter of weeks.
“We know that in reality, these contributions are voluntary in name only. In some parts of the country, students and families can be denied certain services and extra-curricular activities and they can face stigma.
“The legislation we have published would bring an end to the pressure on families to make these donations. Our Bill will place an obligation on schools to make clear to families that these contributions are voluntary. It will ensure that no child is stigmatised or denied opportunities because their parents are not in a position to make a contribution.
“Our Bill will prohibit schools from contacting parents more than once per school year looking for contributions, and will work to end the stigma by disallowing any reminders of these contributions to be sent home with their children.
“It will ensure transparency, by placing an obligation on schools and the Department of Education to publish online the total amount collected in voluntary contributions and how this has been spent in each school.
“Crucially, our Bill sets out a pathway for bringing about an end to voluntary contributions for good once capitation levels are adequately restored by Government”.
Schools are underfunded
Teachta Carthy continued: “The reason that families are being put under this financial pressure is because the government has consistently underfunded our schools to the point that they feel they have to fundraise just to cover the basics. It has to end.
“I am calling on the government to do the right thing and finally give our schools the funding and resources that they need to give our children the education that they deserve. These unfair voluntary contributions must stop.
“Sinn Féin will stand up for families and ensure our education system is fit for purpose.”