Last Thursday, primary schools all over Ireland temporarily closed their doors on education, to facilitate the population’s Yes or No ballots in the Stability Treaty Referendum. Partry NS was no different. However, unlike other national schools of its kind, pupils, teachers and parents were present on the day, forming a protest to highlight the plight of rural sachools. The man who coordinated this community response is Principal of Partry NS, Tom Byrne, a campaigner for the cause of education.
Tom organised the protest to highlight the results of recent cuts at his school, and to stand in solidarity with other primary schools who are facing the same fate.
“The changes to pupil-teacher ratio, withdrawal of resources and the removal of teachers is having a detrimental effect on entire rural communities all over the country,” he said.
Byrne is a firm believer that these cuts are not universally occurring across the education spectrum, but are solely taking place in rural areas.
“This is discrimination against small rural schools, if a school such as ours suffers from the removal of one of our three teachers, that is more than a thirty three per cent reduction in our educational service,” he explained.
The principal, who has taught in the national school for the past 26 years, feels that those making the decisions are out of touch.
“These decisions are made by a handful of people in Dublin. Ruairi Quinn (Education Minister) resides in D4 and he is making these decisions about people and communities who don’t live beside him. These decisions don’t impact on him politically as rural communities are not his constituents,” said Mr Byrne.
Byrne, not only has a problem with the politicians whose constituencies are in the east of the country, he also has issues with local politicians as a result of the cuts.
“The politicians we elected did not stand up in support of their voters, the voters that got them into their current positions,” said Byrne