TWO prominent clergymen in west Donegal have warned plans to close rural schools will ‘inflict serious damage and wreck havoc’.
They produced figures showing 27 out of 31 Protestant schools in the county face closure or amalgamation as part of swingeing government cutbacks.
It is estimated 101 out of 175 primary schools in Donegal will be affected by increases in pupil-teacher ratios. Fr John Joe Duffy C.C, Arranmore Island and Rev. John Deane. Church of Ireland, Ardara have called on all parties and organisations to stand up for the education and future of young children (see page 19).
“This ill concieved and poorly thought out policy of discrimination against small schools, minority schools and the disadvantaged has to be changed,” they warned.
“This blunt approach, imposing cutbacks, will diminish resources in our schools leading to larger class sizes, less resources and in some cases closure of small schools.
“The budget has failed to protect the most vulnerable, and those most in need of education and support, with cutbacks in the Deis programme, learning support and special needs.
“What is further disappointing regarding Budget 2012, is the manner in which many of these cuts were announced by the government on budget day and subsequently by the minister. Many schools and communities only realised the sheer extent and gravity of the budget cuts made by Minister Quinn in the days following the budget, such as the changes in the staffing schedules for small schools with less than 86 pupils,” they added.