The hidden costs of free education


Sir, – Fintan O’Toole’s article “Ireland’s brilliant education system is a complete fluke”, Opinion & Analysis, Weekend Review, April 24th) surely merited front-page billing as a vital contribution to any debate about the future of Irish society. The key sentence “We haven’t even managed to create what every other developed country has, which is actually free primary education” draws urgent attention to the current institutionalisation of inequality in our democracy from the very outset of an Irish citizen’s schooling.

Were The Irish Times to provide a breakdown of the actual costs of an Irish child’s attendance at primary school today – books and workbooks, uniform, etc – it would show very clearly how impossible it is for a family on welfare or a low income to provide the literally hundreds of euro needed to allow poor children to start out on life (and continue) on a par with the rest of their peers – and not suffer the stigma of being dependent for photocopies of basic texts, etc, with all the long-term consequences for demotivation and poor self-image for the individual, and the hidden costs for Irish society. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 6.