Education Budget: “When a sticking plaster is all we have, let’s make sure it sticks”- Children’s Commissioner

29 November 2022 News
Picture of a sticking plaster

Commenting on Chris Heaton-Harris, Secretary of State’s budget for NI departments, Koulla Yiasouma, NI Commissioner for Children and Young People, said:

“Without an NI Executive and Assembly, we must rely on our civil service to provide public services – they cannot do this effectively if they do not have the money to do so.

“I have said it before and will again – if our Education System was a business, it would have folded many years ago. Years of indecision, under-investment and cuts has left the education of our children facing into the abyss.  The cost of not reforming and under-investing in education, health and social security will be paid by children and their families now, and for years to come.

“The children of Northern Ireland should not be in this situation, but they are, and the civil service has been left with choices to make. Are they confident that current expenditure is being used effectively and efficiently? Are departments and their agencies collaborating to achieve more with less? And are decisions being made in partnership with children and their communities? When a sticking plaster is all we have, we have a duty to make sure it actually sticks. 

“The budget leaves services with stark choices that will leave so many families struggling and possibly worse.  We were reminded during the pandemic that schools are more than places of learning, they are places of fun, safety and stability where struggling families can be identified and supported.

“In addition to the crisis facing education, families will struggle this winter to keep warm and provide nutritious food for their children. These are not mutually exclusive; children cannot learn effectively if they are ill from cold homes and if they have empty stomachs.

“The cost-of-living, or as one young person put it, ‘cost-of-surviving’ crisis will severely impact many families.  Who and where those families are is not a mystery – they are those families with a child who has a disability, lone parent families, parents on low wages, those with physical and mental health issues and those from communities facing socio and economic deprivation and under-investment.

“Children across our communities need their government, whether it is in Westminster or Stormont, to provide a safety net to enable them to continue to learn, play, be well and survive.”


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