Written Answers. - Re-enrolment Fees.

Pat Rabbitte

Question:

989 Mr. Rabbitte asked the Minister for Education and Science if an annual re-enrolment process linked to paying a contribution is acceptable under departmental policy; if there are any guidelines sent to schools on the matter; if schools contravene any departmental rule or directive by writing to parents to seek contributions; if he has had discussions with the National Parents Council with regard to this issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19394/00]

The State is obliged under Article 42.4 of the Constitution to provide for free primary education. Accordingly, there can be no levy on parents of children attending a school, nor can any child be refused admission because of the non-payment of a voluntary contribution by his or her parents.

It is a fundamental principle of the free second level education scheme that no charge be made in respect of instruction in any subject of my Department's programme for secondary schools; recreation or study facilities where all pupils are expected to avail themselves of them as part of the school programme, and any other activity in which all pupils are required to take part.

It would be a breach of my Department's policy for post-primary schools involved in the free second level education scheme to demand a registration or re-registration fee.

Voluntary contributions by parents or charges for optional extras over and above what is provided for in the general school programme are permissible provided that it is made absolutely clear to parents that there is no question of compulsion to pay and that, in making a contribution, they are doing so of their own volition. The manner in which such voluntary contributions are sought and collected is a matter for school principals and managements.
No guidelines have been issued to schools specifically relating to charges for re-enrolment. My Department has not had formal discussions with the National Parents Council in relation to these matters.