Education Minister Norma Foley has said that no school can compel parents or guardians into making a voluntary contribution to the school.
Ms Foley was responding to a report published by St Vincent de Paul that indicated parents feel under pressure to pay the charge, with 87 per cent responding to say they had to cut back or delay their spending in order to do so.
Voluntary contributions is a donation to the school to help pay for costs it has incurred, and can be worth hundreds of euro.
Responding to the findings, Ms Foley said she wanted to be “explicitly clear” that no fee can be charged for enrolment or continued enrolment in a school.
“I want to acknowledge that voluntary contributions are just that – they’re voluntary by their nature,” she told reporters on Wednesday.
“I really, really want to be very clear that no parents, no guardian can be compelled to make a voluntary contribution.
“That is not appropriate and that is not right.
“I think we’re very focused on providing additional supports into schools in the last while. €220 million is now being paid out in terms of capitation and in addition to that €220 million, €90 million is going into our schools this year, specifically to address energy issues within a school.”
She said that this represented a 7.5 per cent increase in capitation.
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She added: “We’ve rolled out other measures for our schools, whether it’s the free school books, whether it’s initiatives in terms of counselling, whether it’s 150,000 young people availing of free school transport, but I also acknowledge that schools may feel pressurised in certain areas and have particular difficulties or challenges, and I want to acknowledge the great work that schools do every single day.
“But if there is an issue, I would say to principals, I would ask you to make direct contact with the department, we do have a facility within the department, we have a dedicated unit – the (Financial Support Services Unit) – who will work on a one-to-one basis with the school if they have specific challenges in terms of funding of the school.”
She said: “There can be no compelling of parents or guardians to make a contribution to the running of the school. Absolutely none.”