***Press Release for REPORT CARD***
Tuesday 9 September 2008 UNDER EMBARGO UNTIL: 00.01hrs Wednesday 10 September EDUCATION SYSTEM ‘FAILING’ SAYS ALLIANCE AHEAD OF NEW REPORT CARD
While thousands of anxious teenagers are awaiting their Junior Certificate results today (Wednesday 10 September), the Children’s Rights Alliance is calling on the Government to support those who will have no results to pick up – nearly 2,000 children, according to recent figures. Alliance research into the Government’s very own commitments, as part of its upcoming ‘Report Card’ which will also look at health, child poverty and children in society, has found the education system wanting on several levels. For example, in stark contrast to the Government’s Towards 2016 education commitment that ‘every child will complete a senior cycle or equivalent’, approximately 6% of 15-year-olds ceased their full-time education in the 2006 Census, making it three times more difficult for them to find a job.
The Alliance’s preliminary research for its Report Card, the first in a new series of annual audits of Government commitments, out in January 2009, has found that Government targets lack ambition and an unwillingness to plough dedicated monies and resources into education. In relation to literacy, the Government’s commitment is to bring down the number of children from disadvantaged communities with difficulties from 30% to 15% by 2016. Yet Alliance research suggests that the Government will struggle to meet even this unambitious target. Moreover, despite having the second highest GDP per capita PPS (purchasing power standards) in the EU-27 zone, the State’s expenditure on public educational institutions trails behind far poorer states, coming in at only 20th. The Alliance insists that the Government is failing to translate its comparative wealth into more support for schools.
ESRI Annual School Leavers’ Survey Report 2006
Moreover, approximately 12% of young people, aged between 18-24 years, are early school leavers [CSO –QNHS 2002-2005 (3 May 2006) / Eurostat, Key Figures on Europe 2007-2008]
Eurostat, Key Figures on Europe 2007-2008 4 Ireland’s expenditure increased by 6% between 2000 and 2004, comparable increases in the Czech Republic and Poland were 13% and 11% respectively. [Eurostat, Key Figures on Europe 2007-2008]
Jillian van Turnhout, the Alliance’s Chief Executive, says: ‘Our preliminary research has found that the Government is failing to give all of our children the chance to reach their full potential. Not only does this fail to live up to the principles contained within the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), ratified by the State in 1992, but it also fails to deliver on the Government’s own goals and commitments.’ Mrs van Turnhout continues: ‘Nearly 2,000 children leaving school without their Junior Cert is appalling – enough children to fill half a dozen cinema theatres. It is unacceptable that we have spent our wealthier years spending less on education than 19 other countries, not in the world, but in the EU. No doubt we will hear of record Junior Cert results and we will share in parents’ pride in the academic achievements of our young students, but what of those children who are on the margins of society? How will the Government stop future generations from slipping through the cracks of our education system? This is a make or break juncture for the Government and with the global credit crunch and impending, emergency Budget, the situation is likely to worsen unless we invest in our children. The Alliance is watching and, in January, we will be reporting on the Government’s record in upholding the day-to-day rights of children in Ireland.’
For further information, please contact:
Carys Thomas, Communications Director
Tel: (01) 662 9400 / 087 7702845; Fax: (01) 662 9355
Notes to Editor: The Alliance’s Report Card, an audit of Government successes and failures in relation to its own targets and commitments, will be published in January 2009.