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Government halves its spending on education over the last 16 years

The OECD report found that Irish teachers teach for 915 hours per year compared to an EU average of 777 hours.

Image: Classroom via Shutterstock

GOVERNMENT SPENDING ON education has fallen sharply since 2000.

According to a new report from the OECD, 9.4 per cent of government spending in Ireland in 2011 was allocated to education compared to 13.7 per cent in 2000.

This compares unfavourably with other OECD countries where an average of 13 per cent of public spending goes to education, a figure which in other countries has increased from 12.6 per cent in 2000.

The INTO said the figures show that education spending as a proportion of all public spending has more than halved from 19 per cent in 1997 to 9.4 per cent.

The union said the fall in spending was hitting schools hard and argued it was responsible for cuts to school budgets, school staffing and special needs teaching hours.

Teaching hours

The Education at a Glance 2013 report, which compares education systems across the globe, shows the school year at primary level in Ireland at 183 teaching days is similar to other countries. On average in the EU 21 countries, pupils at primary level spend 182 days in school.

However, Irish primary teachers have far more teaching hours than their counterparts in other countries. Irish teachers teach for 915 hours per year compared to an EU 21 average of 777 hours per year.

Irish class sizes remain the second highest in the EU at 24 pupils per class compared to an EU 21 average of 20 per class. Only in England are classes at primary level bigger than in Ireland.

In terms of salary Irish primary teachers earn 80 per cent of the salary of similarly qualified graduates. Teacher salary costs are off-set in Ireland by larger classes and the fact that teachers teach for 20 per cent longer than primary teacher in other EU countries.

Read: Quinn demands investigation into Leaving Cert Maths mistakes>
More: Cuts in teaching support for special needs children “utterly unacceptable”>

About the author:

Amy Croffey

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