The constant attack on small rural schools by the Government parties of Fine Gael and Labour must stop, according to Fianna Fáil local election candidate Niall Kelleher. The comments come on the back of sustained attacks on the viability of many of our small rural schools in Kerry and indeed, throughout Ireland.
“The effect of many of these attacks from the Government is that the Department of Education are making it harder and harder for small schools to retain teachers. The Government are doing this by stealth and it is plain wrong. This comes on the back of the closure of rural Gardai stations and the serious threat hanging over our local Post Offices” said Niall Kelleher.
“Many local schools, especially in areas that lack other services, are effectively the heart of our rural communities. Children, parents, grandparents and friends all interact with each other through schools and in areas where local services are poor, this can be the only substantial community engagement that they have. If elected to Kerry County Council I will work to ensure that our small rural communities, have appropriate community facilities, that can help foster a sense of community, rather than see it destroyed” said Niall Kelleher.
Niall Kelleher continued, “The plans by the Government to introduce phased staffing cuts in small schools with under five teachers will result in many communities losing their local schools. In addition there has been a significant hike in school transport costs. The combination of both these changes mean that the Government want our children to travel further for school and to pay even more for the privilege of doing that.”
“The figures that I have obtained from the Fianna Fáil Education Spokesperson Charlie McConalogue clearly demonstate that For a small school to retain a second teacher in September 2014, it will need 20 pupils, an increase of eight pupils or a 66.6% increase on the situation in 2011 figures. A 14% increase is needed to retain a third teacher and a 7% increase is needed to retain a fourth teacher. To me, this couldn’t be clearer – the government is consciously and deliberately targeting smaller schools. There is no other explanation for the scandalous decision that the Government is making about the future of our education system” concluded Niall Kelleher.