Tracy McElhinney.

“The government decision to waive exam fees for this year is welcome”, Tracy McElhinney,  Labour Party Local Area Representative for Trim has told Meath Live.

She added, “However, the government needs to go further and abolish these unfair fees. There is no justification for charging fees for the Junior Certificate (€109)  and Leaving Certificate €116).

“Families are really struggling with finances and this measure will help. However, it is disgraceful that the fees are being ‘waived’ and not eliminated.

“Ireland is one of the few countries which charges students to sit State examinations. Exam fees along with the cost of uniforms, books, transport, school tours, etc., make education one of the costliest areas of household expenditure.

“The financial services company, Zurich, annual ‘Costs of Education’ survey* found that in 2021, families were paying €1,305 to send a child to primary school and a whopping €2,214  to secondary school. This is outrageous.

“Lockdown and remote learning for children have also really imposed significant additional costs on families who had to purchase digital devices to enable their children to continue to learn. This new dimension of the costs of education must be factored into all education budgets from now on.”

“The current government review of reducing costs of living could, once and for all, address this grave inequality. The government should:

■ Abolish all examination fees;

■ Provide sufficient monies to schools to deliver free textbooks;

■ Ensure schools have sufficient funds to properly finance vital extra-curricular activities such as school tours, visits to the theatre, buses to school games, etc.”

“These changes would make a lasting difference to families.”