February 25, 2024

‘Unnacceptable’ – Kilkenny TD calls for end to school ‘voluntary donations’

A local TD has called for an end to the practice of schools asking for “voluntary donations” from hard pressed parents.

Deputy Kathleen Funchion called on the Government to “take action” on voluntary donations, which she said are placing unfair financial pressure on families.

The party published legislation this week that would prevent families being singled out for not being able to meet these extra costs.

The Carlow-Kilkenny TD said: “This week, as children return to school, thousands of families will be getting requests from schools for voluntary contributions which can put huge pressure of their finances.

“Year on year, families are being crippled by requests for contributions of very often well over 100 or 200 per child, and even as much as 300-400 in some cases.

“These are huge sums for families to be expected to pull together in a matter of weeks and put serious strain on families’ finances.

“We know that in reality, these contributions are voluntary in name only. In some instances, students and families can be denied certain services and extra-curricular activities and they can face stigma.

Deputy Funchion highlighted one case this week in which a child came home from school in a distressed state because they had “singled out from their peers and not given a school journal because their parents had not been in a position to pay the full contribution”.

She added: “This is unacceptable and must stop. The reason that this is happening is because the government has consistently underfunded our schools to the point that they feel they have to fundraise just to cover the basics. It has to end.”

Deputy Funchion (pictured below) said the Sinn Féin Bill would  prohibit schools from contacting parents more than once per school year looking for contributions. It would, she stressed, “end the stigma by disallowing any reminders of these contributions to be sent home with their children”.

And the local TD added: “Crucially, our Bill sets out a pathway for bringing about an end to voluntary contributions for good once capitation levels are adequately restored by Government.

“I am calling on the government to do the right thing and finally give our schools the funding and resources that they need to give our children the education that they deserve. These unfair voluntary contributions must stop.”


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