Quinn refuses to rule out increase in school class sizes

Minister acknowledges ‘difficulties and pain’ but says cuts must continue during bailout programme

Ruairí Quinn: “None of like doing what we have to do none of us like the reduction in allocation for support for different kinds of support that are needed and looking for either increased money from people or reducing services that they are currently receiving.”

Ruairí Quinn: “None of like doing what we have to do none of us like the reduction in allocation for support for different kinds of support that are needed and looking for either increased money from people or reducing services that they are currently receiving.”

 

Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn has refused to rule out an increase in class sizes in next month’s budget saying “everything has to be looked at”.

There had been no discussion on the issue as yet at Government level and figures for the education budget would not be finalised until the last week in September, he said. “There would be a series of Government meetings then because the budget as you know is on the October 15th but genuinely honestly as far as I am concerned there have been no discussions,” Mr Quinn said.

He said any cuts to education would cause “difficulties and pain”.

“None of like doing what we have to do none of us like the reduction in allocation for support for different kinds of support that are needed and looking for either increased money from people or reducing services that they are currently receiving.

He added: “But reluctantly we have to do it and we know it is causing difficulties and pain. It is causing difficulty and pain for us in the department and for teachers and principals and everybody else.”

The government was be compelled to continue cutting public spending while the country was in a bailout programme, he said. “We are not doing it in abstract we are doing it in the context that we will regain our control over our own economy and when we regain control over our own economy we won’t have to do some of these things.”

Department of Education statistics last week revealed that more than 120,000 children, or 23.5 per cent, of primary school children in mainstream schools were in classes of 30 or more in the last school cycle.

The average class size increased slightly from 24.4 in the 2011/12 school year to 24.7 in 2012/13.

The Minister was speaking after attending a Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland Gathering event in Dublin.

Cathal Kelly, chief executive of the college, said the college had come under “relentless criticism” during the unrest in Bahrain in February 2011 “for not being more strident political activists”.

He said the college’s obligation to was to the education of the students attending its university in Bahrain. Questions arose at the time as to whether the college was complicit in the crackdown going on in Bahrain. “In truth as long as we are graduating doctors and nurses to a high quality and in a non-sectarian manner we are adding value value and we should stay,” he said.

Doctors, including three who had trained at the college’s campus in Dublin, were among those arrested during the unrest as the Bahrain security forces tried to quash pro-democracy rallies. The college was criticised for not speaking out against the arrests and treatment of those held. The college opened the Medical University of Bahrain in 2003 and has invested €70 million in the project.