8 September 2005 Edition

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School costs are crippling low-income families

Back to school

Back to school

As the new school year begins, Donegal Sinn Féin Councillor Pearse Doherty says the government must address the costs associated of sending children to school, which is a major worry and burden to many parents of low-income families.

The last number of years has seen a steady increase in the costs associated with sending children to both primary and secondary school. The National Parents' Council has undertaken a survey of parents of national school children to monitor the cost of sending children to primary schools.

The survey shows that it costs on average €684 to send your child back to school and may reach as much as €3,512 per child, The major cost areas are schoolbooks, which can average €97 to a max of €400, school uniforms averaging €109 to a max of €450 (this does not include the school tracksuits which many schools now promote which can average €38 to €125, and trainers/runners which can cost on average €37 to a max of €130 which increases the uniform cost considerably). Other items such as football gear, and winter coats average €56 to a max of €250. School transport for many families can average €90 to a max of €450 in some cases.

"These figures clearly put an end to the myth that education is free," says Doherty. "The fact that a family with four children of schoolgoing age is paying on average of €2,736 per year to send those children to school in September with only a possibility of €320 in assistance from the government depending on means is a disgrace.

"The School Clothing and Footwear Allowances is a means tested allowance for parents that are struggling and entitles parents to €150 for a child attending secondary school and €80 for a child at primary school. There is no doubt that this allowance does not come close to meeting the costs associated w

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