The great dream of free education is over

Ireland“So the debate about the reintroduction of third-level fees has moved from the ‘if’ to the ‘when’. Education minister Batt O’Keeffe has signalled a system for charging for tuition will be in place by the start of the 2010 academic year. The great dream of ‘free’ education for all – a fundamental ideal for a republic committed to equality of opportunity for its children – which was begun in 1995 when Labour minister for education Niamh Bhreathnach abolished third-level fees is well and truly over. It is a sad day indeed and a sadder one that the decision is somehow being dressed up as a means of redistributing access to education among lower socio-economic groups. It’s not, nor can it be. Every piece of research done in this country or the world over shows that widening access to third-level education is dependent on the intensive support given to impoverished children at primary and second level – not at third level when the damage is already done …” (more)

[Tribune, 22 March]

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