Cllr Bonfield: The State should provide for books, shoes, uniforms for school children.

It’s time for free education says Tipp councillor

Following the publication of the annual Barnardos survey on back to school costs, Labour Cllr Fiona Bonfield said it’s time to make education genuinely free.

Cllr Bonfield commented: “It’s time for a step change from this Government and see movement to making education genuinely free. From the Barnardos report, it’s clear that the increase in the Back to School allowance is only tinkering around the edges. Many worried parents in Tipperary have contacted our office asking for support at this really challenging time for families. What is needed is for the State to provide for books, shoes, uniforms for children in September.

“Over half of respondents confirmed that the increased cost of living is making this year more challenging in terms of back to school costs. The cost of living isn’t some abstract concept and families in Tipperary are really feeling it in their pockets.

“In April, Labour called for the budget to be brought forward in anticipation of the summer pinch point for parents. A Labour Budget would make school books free to all school children. At an estimated cost of €40 million to the State, this would represent value for money in terms of levelling the playing field for all children. It would provide a real impact for struggling families.

“As well as the material needs for schoolgoing children, parents are expected to cough up huge voluntary contributions. These are another financial block when it comes to children’s education, as confirmed by the Barnardos report. Voluntary contributions are a marker of an education system which is inadequately funded, and they place an unfair burden on families. They need to go.”