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OECD report should act as wake-up call on Education cuts – McConalogue

Deputy Charlie McConalogue.

Deputy Charlie McConalogue.

Fianna Fáil spokesperson on Education and Skills Charlie McConalogue has reacted to the latest education study by the OECD. The report found that the proportion of young people in Ireland who are unemployed and not in education or training programmes is higher than in other developed countries.

The “Education at a Glance” study reveals that 21% of young people in Ireland fall into this category, compared to an OECD average of 15%.

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Deputy McConalogue commented, “This Government is carrying out a sustained attack on young people with devastating consequences. Over 61,000 under 25s are without work and are not in the education system. This is an extremely worrying figure, and one that the Government seems to be doing little to change.

In fact, changes to Jobseekers Allowance brought in in the last Budget only serve to punish these young people further. Despite promises from Labour to secure “core rates” of welfare payments, people under the age of 25 have seen their payments slashed to €100 a week.

“During his term in office, Minister Quinn targeted third level education in successive Budgets, reducing funding by €25m in 2014 as well as increasing registration fees by a further €250. By the end of this year registration fees will have doubled to €3000 in the space of three years,leading to increased pressure on families with one or more students in third level education.

People on apprenticeship programmes have also been targeted, with those attending Institutes of Technology as part of their course being forced to fork out a student contribution fee of €540, a charge which had been previously covered by the state. This change in policy flies in the face of Government claims that it wants to encourage young people into training.

“Over the past four years, it seems as if the Government has set out to deliberately make it more difficult for young people to go to college and university. Cuts to maintenance grants and the abolition of supports for postgraduate students have significantly restricted access to third level education.

“The appointment of Minster Jan O’Sullivan should have been seen by the Government as an opportunity to prioritise education, however she seems to be taking up where her predecessor left off, pressing ahead with registration fee increases and the controversial Junior Cert reforms.

This survey from the OECD highlights a very real problem for the Irish education system and the economy as a whole. These cuts to third level education will damage the quality of education for young people as well as having a detrimental impact on our long term economic prospects. Education is the cornerstone for the future prosperity of the country, and this Government needs to realise the importance of investment in this area”.

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