School struggles

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THE number of parents experiencing difficulty in paying for their children’s educational expenses is steadily increasing in the Mid West.

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According to the Michael Murphy, head of St Vincent de Paul in the Mid West, the charity spent more than €125,000 assisting families with school and college expenses last year.

This week, Barnardos released its annual School Costs Survey which showed that on average, it costs parents €350 for a child in senior infants, €400 for fourth class pupils and €785 for students starting first year in secondary school.

Mr Murphy told the Limerick Post: “Over the last two years we have probably contributed more to education costs than ever before. University fees are going up all the time, the cost of books is increasing – at least two of the educational companies have increased their prices this year.

“We are always coming across people who have borrowed to pay for the basics. Over the last few years we’ve seen an increasing number of requests for help with basic school and college costs.”

He added: “We would see book rental schemes as the only way to reduce costs for parents but the Department of Education really have to take the lead in pushing this.”

Mr Murphy spoke out against voluntary contributions that are sought by many schools to assist with the day-to-day running costs.

“These are not voluntary in many schools. In some cases they are over €500 – that is a lot of money for families already in difficulty,” he commented.