Minister’s Comments Spark Further Concern for Rural Schools17th April 2012
I have serious concerns overs the comments recently made by Education Minister Ruairí Quinn at the INTO Congress last week. In his speech at this event the Minister stated that many in the education sector still do not fully appreciate the gravity of the economic situation we currently find ourselves in and warned that education will have to take its share of the cuts.
To date the Ministers approach to small schools has been hugely and this this speech spells further bad news for our smaller schools.
Since this government has come to power we have seen the very viability of rural schools put under threat. The comments made by the Minister in the last week seem to indicate that further cuts may be coming down the line. While Minister Quinn has stated that he recognises that small schools are an important part of the social fabric of rural communities he is unwilling to take steps to protect this valuable service. He reiterated his stance that small schools will have to change and adapt and will be forced to operate with reduced resources.
It seems that the Minister is not willing to take any steps to protect our rural schools. It is little consolation from him to recognise the importance of small schools while at the same time imposing cuts that will force many to amalgamate and may even result in closures. Budget 2012 altered the staffing schedules for schools with less than 4 teachers, to devastating effect. Any further cuts or changes to staffing by the Minister will no doubt be hugely damaging to our rural schools.
The reality is that these schools serve small, rural and frequently very remote communities and hold a unique position in Irish society. In this constituency alone there are a huge number of schools with four or less teachers and over the years I have seen first-hand the excellent service they provide. In light of their unique and indeed difficult position these schools need support and not thinly veiled threats from the Minister. Any threat to these schools is an attack on the rural way of life. I would be vehemently opposed to any further cuts to rural schools and will continue to petition the Minister on this matter into the future.