There Is No Such Thing As A Free Education
Back-to-school is a costly time for parents, there is no such thing as a free education. Well not as long as my eldest has been in school anyway. In fact, I think I handout more money throughout the school year than I do for her enrollment fees.
You will need a mini mortgage when you factor in costs for fee's, uniforms, stationery, voluntary contributions, extracurricular activities and fundraisers such as non-uniform days and bake sales.
I like to think I'm a little savvy when it comes to back-to-school costs. I buy crests and get nana to sow them on, I accept hand me downs - although she's yet to fit into anything yet and I shop around for everything except the uniform itself. From experience, I believe it pays to buy quality clothing but I also understand not everyone is in this position. My daughter is extremely hard wearing on clothes and for her first two school years, I had to replace cardigans numerous times as well as her dresses.
Schools in Ireland are only free in the name because realistically you cannot send your child to school in September with no uniform or books, in fact, for most schools the fees must be paid before the new school year starts.
While back-to-school costs have fallen in the past year due to reductions in transport costs and after-school care, parents are struggling more than ever. A recent survey by the Irish League of Credit Unions has confirmed a rise in parents turning to moneylenders to pay for back-to-school items. On average parents are borrowing between €400 and €500.
A third of parents surveyed this year will be forced to deny their children certain items because they simply do not have the money. 22% of parents say they will have to cut spending on household bills and another 15% say spending on food will have to suffer.
It is completely unacceptable in this day and age. Why are parents having to suffer and struggle like this?
We already have the back-to-school allowance for the vulnerable in society and looking at these figures it is not even covering half the costs. Last week thousands of parents of primary school children who qualified, automatically received €125 for each eligible child aged 4-11. Parents of secondary students and children in full-time second-level education aged 12-22 on or before 30 September 2018 received €250.
Something needs to be done.
Book rental schemes need to be in all school across the board, both junior and secondary schools. Uniforms including tracksuits need to be generic, available in all local low-cost supermarkets. School crests should be supplied by schools for a small fee. Free lunches should be available to all school going children. The Board of Management needs to look into new measures to reduce the costs for parents each school year. And finally, the Government need to restore the Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance back to the 2010 rates of €200 for primary school children and €305 for a secondary school students.
Otherwise, the15% of parents across Ireland cutting down on their weekly food budget to cover school costs will dramatically increase.
Written by Kellie Kearney staff writer at FFHQ who also blogs at www.mylittlebabog.com.