Since the start of the school year in 2008 and the financial crisis which swept the
globe, the government and the institutions mandated and constituted to administer and
develop the education system have taken many radical steps to reform and reshape
the education system. This is achieved within a framework derivative of the neo-liberal
philosophy which was à la mode with governments and financial sectors during the
genesis of the recession.
These decisions are made behind closed doors with little or no consultation with the
public; which is almost always initiated from the outside. Since September 2011 and
now; the IUA(Irish universities association), HEA(higher education authority), the
NCCA(National council for curriculum and assessment) and the DoES( Department of
education and science) have been engaging in discussions about how the education
sector will adjust to the enormous cuts; both current and proposed. The “rationalisation”
of first and second level education is also happening, with the future society having it’s
development affected by decisions made under the “rationale” that class sizes should
go up so as to pay unsecured (no legal or moral obligation) bondholders ( part of the
financial elite who caused crisis in the first place).
In fact to date there have been a wide range of funding cuts to the education system.
In primary education Deis schools; those in disadvantaged area where extra supports
were provisioned have had severe staff cutbacks.Smaller schools will be forced to take
on more pupils thus increasing the pupil-teacher ratio to the detriment of teachers’ ability
to do their highly valuable work. School transport charges are also on the rise, which
will have a crippling effect on rural communities or those with a school commute.Special
needs is now less of a priority in trying to include those with learning, intellectual or
physical issues in the greater society; the last government capping SNA (special
needs assistants) at 10,400 and Official rhetoric suggesting further cuts as inevitable.
Schools will have to learn to deal with less English language support teachers who
work with immigrant children helping them cope with learning the language. Primary
modern languages programmes are again, apparently disposable when cutting the
€2.5 million being used to teach a range of modern foreign languages in more than 500
primary schools nationwide is on the government’s agenda while bringing not national,
but international uproar as regressive. In secondary education professional guidance
services are to be abolished coupled with the projected increases in student numbers
across the board which means less funding per enrolled pupil/student; this will only have
a debilitating effect on a population saddled with twenty years of austerity ahead of it.
Should the perspective third level student manage to run the gauntlet of a devastated
primary and secondary education system, he or she will find an eviscerated system
mangled by Bologna Accords, corporate administration and a lack of knowledge for
knowledge’s sake and research funding centred around profitability/commercial value.
Proposed funding cuts of 6% in third level by 2014 means a cap on student numbers or
the complete reintroduction of tuition fees the most prohibitive funding mechanism when
related to access equality. This is on the back of student contribution rises from €850 per
student in 2008/09 to €2,250 with an intended rise to €3,000 by 2015 can hardly bode
well for a system which has already seen a 6% cut in staff and a virtual freeze on capital
spending.The abolition of post-graduate maintenance grants is a maneuver which flies
in the face of establishment propaganda about “smart economies” as does the fact
that Irish universities are only afforded 60% of the funding of their EU counterparts and
since 1996 the proportion of exchequer income spent on education has drop from 19%
to 16%; given these statistics it is not hard to see why Ireland is a lowly 27th out of 31
OECD countries when relating education spending to wealth(GDP).
Student nurses are expected to work without pay due to a precarious medical system
underfunded and warped with bureaucracy and private/public provisions where the
state pays private companies/corporations to provide services for profit which the public
service could do if given adequate resources; all a gift of the neo-liberalism of the Mary
So the outlook for all stakeholders in our education system is quite bleak, however
the vast majority of Irish people would agree on the importance of education
both individually and socially and this is reflective in the numbers at protests and
demonstration around the country corresponding to some of the cuts mentioned above.
Free Education for Everyone (FEE) is a national campaign based around third level
access issues including; the fee increases, grant cuts/abolition and commercialisation
of the campus. The campaign has arrived at the conclusion that a united front across
the education sector is required to effectively fight and overturn those cuts already
administered and those proposed for the future. Wednesday, the 29th of this month
(February), has been set as a FEE National Day of Action Against All Education
Cuts- in Galway the local campaign in conjunction with NUI Galway Students Union is
organising a march. The March is proposed to commence at 1.00pm at the University
road entrance to the campus, passing the Cathedral and moving finally on to Eyre
Square where we will have speakers. All are welcome to join the demonstration and any
organisations or individuals wishing to contribute or enquiring about more information
can get in contact at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Free Education For Everyone Galway