Labour’s education policy shows a complete disregard for the importance of small rural schools, according to Louth Cllr Declan Breathnach.
Labour’s policy stance could negatively impact on rural schools throughout Louth according to the Principal of Walshestown National School, Clogherhead.
Cllr Breathnach said: “Those of us familiar with the realities of rural living understand that as well as achieving high standards of education, schools are at the heart of rural communities.
“Rural schools are a focal point for the local community and part of the unique identity of the area, with grandchildren often following their grandparents through the doors of the same school, grandchildren often following their grandparents to play for the same school team.
“Recent comments from the Labour Education spokesperson Ruairí Quinn that rural schools are not giving “value for money” will send a chill down the spine of parents in small rural communities all over Ireland. In the last few weeks, Deputy Quinn, who wants to be the next Education Minister, told the Irish Independent that he favoured clustering small rural schools. This is a policy which will lead to the closure of local schools around the country. Rural schools already cluster for many services – pushing this further can only end their stand-alone status.
“In recent years Fianna Fáil doubled the number of teachers in small rural schools and stopped the plans for forced amalgamations being discussed when Labour last controlled the Department of Education.’.
“When the Value for Money report being carried out by officials of the Department of Education and Skills comes to the next Government to consider there’s no doubt where Labour will stand.
Declan Breathnach concluded: “Can Labour be trusted not to rip the heart out of rural communities leaving the roof to rot and fall in on the local school as local children travel miles away for their education.’’