THE principal of a West Cork secondary school feels that a commitment by the Minister for Education Joe McHugh to freeze college fees is a ‘mealy-mouthed proposal.’
Speaking to The Southern Star following the issuing of the Leaving Cert results last week, Fergal McCarthy, principal of Kinsale Community School, said that there is nothing more important than the State ensuring the education of its citizens, and he is calling for investment in our youth.
‘The State needs to realise its people are its greatest resource and in order for the State to prosper it needs to appropriately fund education at every level,’ said Mr McCarthy.
‘It’s about the education of our doctors, dentists and teachers – those that are needed in a functioning first world society – and the State needs to realise that they are as important as any infrastructure like broadband.’
He believes that parents should not be burdening the bill of providing this ‘human capital’ to make the country a ‘first class, first world country.’
In recent weeks, the Minister for Education, Joe McHugh said that college fees would be frozen for five years if Fine Gael was returned to government in the next General Election. He had also said there were no plans to increase the cap for annual registration fees, which currently stands at €3,000.
‘Ministers McHugh’s commitment to freeze fees is a mealy-mouthed proposal and it doesn’t go anywhere to recognise the investment parents put into their children’s education.’
‘This investment should be made by the State and the more we educate people, the more dividend we will get in this investment, as these people will be paying their taxes,’ the principal added.
Mr McCarthy believes that the money should be paid for out of the central exchequer.
‘What we will get on the other side, then, is a top quality, educated and dynamic workforce that benefits our society as a whole – and therefore society as a whole should fund it.’
The principal also referenced the vision by the then Minister for Education Niamh Breathnach who, realising the importance of college education, abolished fees 25 years ago.
He also criticised Minister McHugh’s recent comments that students who can’t afford to go to university should consider regional options instead.
‘No one should place a geographical boundary on an individual student who has certain dreams and ambitions,’ he added.