The recent decision by the Fine Gael and Labour government to implement cuts to the DEIS school initiative, while continuing to fund the elitist private school system, can only be seen as a direct attack on working class people in the Twenty-Six County state and proves that these government parties, despite how they might try to convince us otherwise, are in fact no better than the band of crooks that they replaced.
The DEIS initiative is designed to ensure that the most disadvantaged schools benefit from a comprehensive package of support, while also ensuring that other schools continue to get support in line with the level of disadvantage experienced by their pupils. Not only will these cuts lead to more job losses – teachers, classroom assistants and special needs assistants – the loss of these much needed DEIS funded schemes are an indictment of the education system and will have a huge impact on our society as a whole.
In Cork alone there are thirty-seven schools under the DEIS scheme, and of these nineteen schools will see a combined loss of 88 teaching posts which will inevitably lead to higher class numbers. This is not acceptable. Pupils in smaller classes are proven to achieve better results and receive a better standard of education. Therefore there is no logical reason for cutting such vital services as this can only lead to negative social problems for future generations.
éirígí members were among a crowd of over 300 parents, teachers and pupils that braved the wet conditions recently to march through Cork city to voice opposition to these cuts. Parents and teachers took to the stage and made their feelings known about the seriously negative effect these cuts will have on our youth and to plead with Twenty-Six County education minister Ruairí Quinn to reverse the proposed cuts. Quinn has recently admitted he had not fully researched the DEIS initiative before deciding to make these cuts and has promised to review his decision.
Although this ‘review’ is welcomed, it must be noted that Ruairí Quinn has a history of breaking promises with regards to the education of our youth. Before the 2011 general election Quinn had promised not to reintroduce college fees if Labour were to get into government, but within 100 days he had reneged on this pre-election promise thereby ensuring that less students from working-class backgrounds will be able to benefit from the ‘privilege’ of a higher education.
Speaking at the march Labhrás Ó Tuama of éirígí Corcaigh said, “The 1916 Proclamation of the Irish Republic that James Connolly died for stated “The Republic guarantees… equal opportunities to all its citizens”. So for the Labour party, which claims to carry on the legacy of Connolly, to be the ones to cement further the huge class division within our education system proves conclusively that they have betrayed the working class and sold out all of the principles they claim to stand for and.
“éirígí is calling on all parents, teachers, students and anyone who wishes to see a publicly-funded, high quality and widely accessible education system to resist these cuts in any way they can. Contact your local TD to let your opinion be known, come out and march to show your opposition, but most importantly never be fooled by the lies and deceit of those in power.
“The Young Irelander Thomas Davis once wrote, “Educate that you might be free”. At a time when the Twenty-Six County state provides the private school system with annual funds of over €100 million we implore you; resist these attacks on our civil liberties, resist the education cuts! Beir bua!”