A new national alliance will bring their campaign to protect primary education to a public meeting in Letterkenny tonight.
The National Alliance for Primary Education is behind a public meeting on class sizes and education spending set for 8pm tonight at the Clanree Hotel in Letterkenny. Similar meetings are being held around the country throughout this month, in advance of the government’s announcement of Budget 2014.
Michael Weed, a teacher at Meenagowan National School in Lettermacaward and a member of the INTO Central Executive Committee, said the union is concerned over reports that the Minister for Education will look to cut 100 million euro from the education budget. “We believe what he may do is increase class sizes,” Mr. Weed said.
“Primary education can’t take any more,” he said. “Primary education has taken quite a bit over the last number of years, and it can’t be done.”
Class sizes have already increased during the term of Minister for Education, Ruairi Quinn, TD, because of cuts to teacher and staffing levels.
“There are several schools in Donegal that have classes of over 30 and up to 35 and that’s pretty tough on everyone, children included,” Mr. Weed said.
Prominent small-schools campaigners Father John Joe Duffy, Stranorlar curate; and Rev. John Deane of Ardara have worked locally with the INTO on several issues in recent years, particularly on government scheduling changes that required schools to enrol additional students in order to maintain staffing levels. Father John Joe wanted to encourage people to attend tonight’s meeting.
“The reality of it is we have to protect the resources that we already have and get further resources into education,” he said. He said he knew of national school classes in Donegal with well over 30 pupils. “So the time is now for the people, for parents, for teachers, for management, for the union and the general public to stand up for the future of the children of this nation,” Father John Joe said.
Mr. Weed saidthe meeting is intended to generate support for the campaign and focus attention on the upcoming budget.
He said some schools in Donegal have already been badly affected by scheduling changes, particularly small, rural schools, Irish-language schools and Church of Ireland schools.