Sunday, January 24, 2010

Prioritise education through the recession

The prominent nun and campaigner for the disadvantaged, Sr Stanislaus Kennedy, has called on the government to government to look to the future and recognise education as a priority as it prunes spending during the recession.

Sr Kennedy warned that spending cuts would cause hardship for schools and students and if badly managed could take generations to repair.

"The damage caused by making what are seen as savings now could cost us dearly to repair in the future, bearing in mind that Ireland’s education system was already poorly resourced by international standards before the economic crisis," she said.

Sr Kennedy said the country must “remain committed to national priorities,” while conceding that the government was “under pressure from many interest groups to spare them from pain."

"We have heard the government say it will protect the most vulnerable but the most vulnerable are already suffering the impact of a swathe of cutbacks to special education classes, language support teachers, grants for books and libraries and other supports which were felt most by those who had least capacity to bear the burden," she remarked.

Education was crucial, she continued, to addressing poverty among families – both those who were always poor or would be impoverished by the recession itself.

And Sr Kennedy said there was “a tendency to dismiss the idea that we have real, deep, multigenerational, grinding poverty among our people and that people feel trapped.”

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