Sinn Féin TD for Brian Stanley has expressed concern at schools needing to rely on voluntary contributions from families to fund the basic necessities
The Laois TD says that this can place considerable financial strain upon families.
Mr Stanley’s party has asked families to get in touch and share their experiences about how these costs are affecting them.
Deputy Stanley said: “In the next week, thousands of families will be getting ready for the return to school.
“With this, comes the annual requests for voluntary contributions.
“Year on year, families are being crippled by requests for contributions of very often well over €100 or €200 per child, and even as much as €300-400 in some cases.
“These are huge sums for some families to be expected to pull together in a matter of weeks and puts serious strain on families’ finances.
“We know that in reality, these contributions are voluntary in name only.
“In some instances, students and families can be denied certain services and extra-curricular activities and they can face stigma.
“When added to the costs of uniforms, of school books and of school transport, this represents a very significant and unfair financial burden on families.
“The charity Saint Vincent De Paul has warned that they are receiving hundreds of phone calls from parents every day who are anxious about these expensive costs. This is unacceptable and must change.
“This is happening because the Government doesn’t fund our schools properly and they are forced to seek these contributions.
“It shouldn’t have to be this way. Schools shouldn’t be so underfunded that they have to seek contributions and fundraise for basic things like keeping the lights and heating on. Sinn Féin wants to bring an end to the need for voluntary contributions.
“We want to hear your experience with voluntary contributions – how much have you been asked for this year? Or more generally, what are your family’s experiences of back to school costs?
“Our spokesperson on Education, Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD, wants to hear about your experiences and what needs to change. Get in touch with him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on social media, and tell us your story about the real costs of the return to school.”