Sinn Féin have launched proposals that they say would tackle the costs associated with children returning to school.
Under their play, Laois TD Brian Stanley said that free hot meals would be provided for all children in DEIS primary schools, a book Rental Scheme would be created for all and a dedicated IT Grant would also be rolled out.
This, according to Deputy Stanley, would be rolled out over a five-year government term.
He said: “Ireland’s education system is being heavily subsidised by families.
“Every summer, I speak to families in the Constituency who are being crippled by the growing costs of sending their kids back to school.
“Families are put to the pin of their collar year on year, to meet the costs of books, uniforms, voluntary contributions – the list goes on.
“Parents make every effort to cover these costs, many getting themselves into debt with some going to money lenders as a result, and often at the expense of their own personal needs.
“Successive governments have slashed capitation funding for schools, leaving parents to make up the shortfall through huge voluntary contributions.
“It is alarming, that due to Government inaction, parents are having to fundraise to keep the lights and the heating on in their children’s schools.
“It shouldn’t have to be this way. It is high time we tackle the high costs of education on families.”
Mr Stanley explained in detail how the Sinn Fein plan would work.
He said: “Our plan launched this week would increase per-pupil funding across schools, to bring about an end to the reliance on voluntary contributions and parental fundraising.
“It would provide a Book Rental Scheme for all children, through increases in funding over a number of budgets.
“We would significantly enhance the School Meals Programme, ensuring that all children in DEIS primary schools receive a hot meal during the school day.
“We would also put in place a dedicated IT fund for computers and other IT equipment which would enable parents to apply for means tested support.
“The piecemeal supports provided by successive governments have done little to ease the huge financial burden on parents each year.
“With the proposals we have set out in our policy document, ‘Let’s Tackle Back to School Costs’, we can give parents a break, and ensure that equal educational outcomes can be secured for all children, regardless of their family’s income.”