Northern Ireland has been without government for nearly 2 years now. While on the outside things appear to be moving along as normal under the hood the stains are starting to show.
One headmaster has reported that families already cash strapped are having to find hundreds of pounds to plug funding gaps so school supplied can be purchased.
These contributions are called “voluntary” but they are anything but voluntary. They are essential contributions and parents are put under pressure make these voluntary contributions.
Stormont has been mothballed since Martin McGuiness pulled the plug on the power sharing arrangement with the DUP when funding for Irish language training was withdraw. An agreement was nearly reached between SF and the DUP to get Stormont up and running again but again it foundered on the issue of the Irish Language.
The impasse has created a decision-making logjam – and now parents are buying around £60 worth of supplies per school child every month to plug an education funding gap, a principal has said.
The president of the National Association of Head Teachers in Northern Ireland Geri Cameron said: “It is totally unsatisfactory, parents have had a very strong voice in telling us that it is not sustainable.”
Schools budgets has reduced by about 10 per cent in real terms over the past 6 years. “Schools are now at crisis point,” Ms Cameron added.
Charlene Brooks, chief executive of Parenting NI, a family support organisation, added that families were expected to buy extra items like stationary and contribute to the cost of particular lessons.
She said: “Parents have made it very clear that this has had an unwanted additional financial and emotional strain. They talk about a voluntary contribution but if one parent does not make it does that mean that their child is left out of a lesson and is more vulnerable to being picked on?
“Does that mean that that child stands out from the group? There appear to be much greater expectations on parents to pay towards things that they would not have to in the past.
Schools are not the only thing effected by the Stormont shutdown. Loads of pubs have also shut due to unreformed red tape and taxation. Critical road building projects and Casement GAA Ground development have also been delayed following the power-sharing collapse at Stormont.
The region currently holds the world record for the longest period without a sitting government, which it passed after 589 days.