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10/08/2017

Govt Urged To Provide Extra €125m For Education In 2018

The government must provide at least an additional €625 million over the next five years to ensure that Ireland meets the OECD average spend on early childhood care and education by 2022, according to the trade union, IMPACT.

In a costed pre-Budget submission, the union called on the government to allocate an extra €125 million in 2018 for early childhood education. They also called for the introduction of two months' paid parental leave for one parent, at an extra cost of €84 million. And it called for fees paid by parents to be capped as a condition of public funding of early childhood providers in future.

The union says Government spending of just 0.1% of GDP on early childhood education puts Ireland at the bottom of the OECD league table.

A statement, released alongside the pre-Budget submission, said: "This lack of significant investment has resulted in high costs to parents and low wages for workers. Irish parents pay some of the highest childcare costs in the world, while most of those working within early education don't even earn a living wage."

The EarlyIMPACT pre-Budget submission also demands:

• That Ireland meets the UNICEF early childhood spending target of 1% of GNP within ten years

• The implementation of a Programme for Government commitment to review the early care inspection regime, and withdraw funding from providers who fail to meet standards

• The immediate implementation of a Budget 2016 commitment to a quality audit of early years' education services

• The negotiation and implementation of agreed salary scales for early years' staff to boost professionalisation of the sector.

IMPACT official Lisa Connell said international research had demonstrated a clear link between salaries and the quality of early education experienced by children. But Irish workers generally experience low pay and poor working conditions.

She said: "Average pay in the sector currently stands at €10.27 an hour, with a €1 premium for graduates. It is inevitable that some children experience poor quality early education when the services are provided by poorly qualified and poorly paid staff. Budget 2018 can start to change that by signalling the necessary move towards a graduate-led workforce with payment of an agreed salary scale as a condition of public funding."

IMPACT says simply providing higher capitation for higher qualifications isn't the solution to low pay as there is no guarantee that higher capitation fees would be passed on in wages.

(MH)

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