Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Questions (70)

Sean Fleming

Question:

74 Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the total amount of education fees paid in 2011 and the estimate for 2012 in respect of the families of ambassadors, diplomats and other staff serving overseas; the maximum amount that has been paid in any particular case; if the dependants of persons serving overseas avail of European schools that may be in the area where they are based; if there is an obligation on them to use these schools or does his Department pay fees in these areas where there is an alternative; the total cost of fees paid in respect of each of the countries where payments were made; if he will provide the guidelines on same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35177/12]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Foreign)

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade operates a School Fees Assistance (SFA) scheme in respect of the children of staff serving abroad. The rationale underpinning the scheme is that children of an officer serving the State abroad should not be disadvantaged in educational terms relative to children in the Irish school system. Furthermore, a change of school can be traumatic for any child and my Department has a duty to facilitate officers in moving their children with as little disruption as possible between the different education systems of the countries to which they are posted in the service of the State. In general, where language, educational standards and curriculum at accessible local public schools are comparable to Ireland, children of officers attend such schools.

The SFA scheme allows for reimbursement of additional costs which officers incur when, unable to source suitable publicly-funded education for their children abroad, they are required to place their children in local fee-paying schools or at boarding schools in Ireland. Typically, under their conditions of service, officers rotate between 3-4 year postings abroad and assignments of similar duration at Headquarters. In such circumstances, the Department's SFA Scheme supports officers in their efforts to provide continuity of education for their children in an English language school environment. is allows the Department to fulfil the State's obligation to respect the child's Constitutional right to education.

In the case of officers serving in Brussels, those who are based at the Irish Permanent Representation to the European Union can secure places for their children at the non-fee-paying European Schools. However, those assigned to our other diplomatic missions in Brussels have no automatic eligibility to places in this school and depending on levels of demand for places, may have to seek a place at a fee-paying English speaking school.

The total amount paid under the SFA scheme in 2011 in respect of staff of this Department based abroad was approximately €1,060,000. The breakdown of this amount per country follows. The maximum amount paid in any particular case was €29,200. Under Data Protection legislation, it would be inappropriate for me to give details in this reply which could lead to the identification of the officer and by extension, the child in question.

The estimated expenditure under the SFA scheme for 2012 is €1,141,000.

Payments under Department of Foreign Affairs School Fees Assistance Scheme for 2011 broken down by country

COUNTRY

AMOUNT in €

AUSTRALIA

396.98

AUSTRIA

15,859.10

BELGIUM

113,570.00

CYPRUS

5,487.00

EGYPT

40,894.34

ETHIOPIA

19,039.68

FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA

11,024.95

FRANCE

8,400.00

GERMANY

7,994.00

GREECE

23,928.60

HUNGARY

6,256.81

INDIA

828.19

ISRAEL

62,531.03

ITALY

12,000.00

LUXEMBOURG

7,777.61

MALAWI

37,196.58

MALTA

4,668.50

MOZAMBIQUE

55,246.16

HEADQUARTERS

4,515

NETHERLANDS

54,125.00

PEOPLES REPUBLIC OF CHINA

59,294.30

POLAND

31,266.61

REPUBLIC OF KOREA

42,578.31

ROMANIA

22,320.46

RUSSIA

30,574.30

SAUDI ARABIA

8,629.76

SLOVAK REPUBLIC

6,728.34

SOUTH AFRICA

16,342.48

SPAIN

3,295.33

TANZANIA

55,776.19

UGANDA

46,968.94

UNITED KINGDOM

101,531.59

UNITED STATES

141,448.89

VIETNAM

197.78

TOTAL SPENT

1,058,692.81