Delegates at IMPACT trade union’s Education conference in Galway have voted in favour of a motion to pursue
the reversal of cuts to the School Completion Programme, which works with young people to support their completion of second level education.
Delegates voted this morning (Thursday) on a motion “to reverse the cuts to the school completion programme for the sake of the young people being supported by this programme, who are at risk”.
Michael Smyth, a member of the the union’s executive, proposed the motion. He said “The School Completion Programme is one of the success stories of our education system. It operates in 470 primary schools and 224 post-primary schools, and over the last 13 years has worked with thousands of children to support them and ensure they complete their education.
“Without the School Completion Programme, these young people are likely to have left education, limiting their choices and cutting off opportunities for their futures” he said.
Mr Smyth said the School Completion Programme is run on a budget that is relatively small within the context of spending in education. “The current budget of €24 million has been cut by a total of 25% after successive cuts since 2008.”
The Minister for Education and Skills also spoke to the issue when she addressed the conference this morning. She said “Equality requires an investment in education … we cannot rest until all young people stay in school.”
Mr Smyth said the School Completion Programme is barely sustainable on its current budget. He said “Any further cuts could devastate a service that provides targeted supports for the 36,000 children we’re working with this year. The programs worst affected are after school and summer programmes according to Mr Smyth. He added “I worked with a summer project which went from being able to cater for 140 children one year to just half a dozen children the following year.”
Mr Smyth said “We can help vulnerable young people to fulfil their potential, which opens up choices to them about their future. We can achieve all this with relatively modest resources. It’s a valuable investment in their future, and for the communities they live in.”