East Derry SDLP Assembly member John Dallat
A SHOCKING survey carried out by a local politician has revealed how schools in Co Derry are cutting counselling sessions for children as they struggle with funds.
East Derry SDLP Assembly member John Dallat said he has spoken with more than 20 primary and post primary schools who said that the level of underfunding from the government was now at "crisis" point.
He called the revelations a "crime against children" and urged both the Education Authority and Department of Education to take action.
The MLA carried out the survey which dealt with a number of issues including finance, school transport and new builds.
He said it uncovered how several schools have been forced to cut back on critical issues such as child counselling as well as special needs.
He said: "Last year I met more than twenty school principals and was shocked by the level of underfunding and the strain that many schools are working under.
"The issues dominating schools continues to be about the lack of resources to achieve lower class numbers, adequate numbers of classroom assistant and money to buy pupils materials and books.
"Featuring high in the list of concerns is the lack of money to provide counselling to children who need it, address the individual needs of children with special needs and provide the learning resource that are so essential to a modern-day school curriculum.
"Several school principals claim that a significant increase in funding would be required to maintain the current position which is, in itself, unsatisfactory.
"Others point to the fact that future planning has been put on hold after being told by the Education Authority (EA) that there is no point in making applications.
He continued: "School transport, for several schools is an issue and is imposing severe hardship on parents who are being asked to pay.
"All these issues are impacting on our children and are the direct result of savage under provision in education.
"Those affected most are children who need individual support including those with special needs and that is a human rights issue which will, someday, be challenged by parents.
"The Education Authority and the Department of Education need to be aware of this."
"The absence of an assembly is an absolute disgrace, a crime against our children and young people and something which cannot continue for much longer."
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