Cuts in education funding inevitable - archbishop

 

CUTBACKS IN public funds for education were “inevitable”, the Catholic Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin has said.

He warned that these should be “properly thought out and monitored as regards their real effect, especially on the poorest and the educationally disadvantaged.”

He also said change in patronage of schools in Ireland was also inevitable, but that this was to the good.

Speaking at the annual graduation ceremony for young teachers in St Patrick’s College Drumcondra, Dr Martin said: “Times are hard. In today’s economic and social uncertainty, we should not overlook the fact that even with all our deficiencies Ireland has achieved so much in recent years.

“This is due in great measure to the contribution of teachers. That contribution has often not been adequately recognised. We owe our teachers a great debt,” he said.

“Education in future will be different. New patronage systems will replace the almost monopoly of religious schools in a manner which respects the rights of parents, but also of teachers.

“ That change is inevitable and it is good.”

However, there were two things he believed such change should constantly remember, evaluate and verify.

“Variety in patronage should not result in difference of opportunity. Variety in patronage should not lead to a two-tier educational system.

“We have to be careful that variety of patronage turns out to be a true contribution to pluralism and not just an opportunity for some to opt out of integration,” the archbishop said.

Secondly, he felt, “we have to be careful not to give the impression that somehow the principal mark of a pluralist culture is putting religious values towards the margins of society and that religious values do not belong within the framework of public education.”