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Education


Education is widely recognised as crucial to the achievement of our national objectives of economic competitiveness, social inclusion, and active citizenship.  However, the levels of public funding for education in Ireland are out of step with these aspirations. Here we outline priority areas for investment in education in Budget 2021.  


‘A Rising Tide Failing to Lift All Boats’ is the latest publication in Social Justice Ireland’s European Research Series.   This report analyses performance in areas such as poverty and inequality, employment, access to key public services and taxation.  The report also points to key policy proposals and alternatives for discussion.  These include the right to sufficient income, meaningful work and access to essential quality services.  The policy proposals explore how these areas might be delivered upon in a changing world.

Education systems across the world are being impacted by COVID-19. This disruption will impact the livelihoods of individuals, and the prospects of their communities.  As education systems move to online platforms in the short to medium term, it is vital that all steps are taken to avoid deepening educational and social inequality as a result. 

Ireland has the fourth lowest early school leaving rate in the European Union at five per cent and we are ranked second in the European Union for the percentage of people aged 20-24 with at least upper-second level education at 94 per cent.  This downward trend of early school leaving is a welcome development. Despite the progress made on early school leaving the poor labour market status of early school leavers points to the need for a continued focus on this cohort and on addressing educational disadvantage.  

Early childhood is the stage where education can most effectively influence the development of children and help reverse disadvantage. The most striking feature of investment in education in Ireland relative to other OECD countries is its under-investment in early childhood education.  High quality educational experiences in early childhood contribute significantly to life-long learning success.  This sector needs to be supported by Government, financially and through policy, to ensure that all children have equal access to this success and all of the benefits of quality education.

Social justice matters. That is why Social Justice Ireland publishes our annual socio-economic review. This book is about charting a course to a fairer Ireland. Social Justice Matters 2020 provides an analysis of the present situation on a wide range of issues and identifies a programme of initiatives and policies that can address our challenges in an integrated and sustainable manner.

Digital technology can improve our lives but it also poses a major risk of widening social inequality particularly for people without the skills to navigate digital platforms.  As we move towards a future where digital transformation will disrupt the labour market, having the greatest impact on people with lower levels of education and skills, it is important that this cohort are not left behind.   

Family poverty remains one of the largest determinants of educational outcomes in Ireland.  The benefits of investing in education, to the individual, to the economy and to society, far outweigh any initial outlay of resources.  Read Social Justice Ireland's Election Briefing on Education for an outline of a number of key challenges and some policy proposals that should be in the next Programme for Government.

At our 32nd annual Social Policy Conference last month, Mick Clifford (Irish Examiner, Irish Journalist of the Year 2016) interviewed Roddy Doyle, Booker Prize Winner in 1993, and one of Ireland's greatest living authors.

Technological change is coming whether we like it or not.  The question is are we doing enough to prepare for it?  More specifically are we doing enough to support those workers who will be most impacted by the changes that are on the horizon?

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