August 25, 2014

Education Apartheid

Posted in Sunday Business Post · 103 comments ·

There’s something about Dublin 6. Don’t you think?

For years, I couldn’t quite put my finger on it.

It was a strange sensation. What was it? Was it the solid redbricks, the good taste, the drop-in Pilates classes, the sensitively old Volvos, or maybe the Gonzaga waiting list? Could it have been the credit book at Mortons, the bicycles with child seats, the discriminating baristas, discreetly tattooed, or maybe the simple entitled outrage of the Irish Times letters page?

What makes Dublin 6 feel different?

Now I know, because I’ve just read a report from the Higher Education Authority (HEA). It’s actually there in black and white: degrees. This is what makes D6 different – it’s degrees, loads and loads of degrees! It is well-appointed bragging walls in double-fronted Victorian drawing rooms, smothered in university parchment. That’s it. How could you have missed it?

Dublin 6 is third level squared.

A new report on education in Ireland reveals that 99 per cent of teenagers from Dublin 6 go to college. Yes, 99 per cent. We are not talking anything as trivial as “the majority”, nor “a significant proportion”, nor even “the vast bulk”: we are talking 99 per cent here, of all kids, heading to university. Spare a thought for the poor 1 per cent, God bless him.

This is an extraordinary figure, and good for the solid burghers of D6 – all those grinds had to pay off. However, from society’s point of view, a new report published by the HEA this week reveals something extremely deep and concerning about the access to third level education in our country.

We’ve always known that the richer the area, the more professional the parents and the more broadly white-collar the environment, the much higher the chances of going to college, but this report underscores just how extreme a form of “educational apartheid” there is in Ireland.

In contrast to Dublin 6, the figures from the HEA (the top brass of which probably live in D6) show that only 15 per cent of teenagers from Coolock and Darndale (Dublin 17) ever go through the gates of our universities and colleges. Similarly, only 16 per cent of kids from Ballyfermot and Cherry Orchard (Dublin 10) experience Fresher’s Week or have any notion of third level.

Such a ludicrously Third World-esque disparity in our capital city should be a national emergency.

After Dublin 17 and Dublin 10, the areas with the lowest rates of progression to third level among 17-to-19-year-olds are Dublin 1 (28 per cent), Dublin 22 (31 per cent), Dublin 2 (31 per cent), Dublin 8 (33 per cent), Dublin 11 (28 per cent) and Dublin 24 (29 per cent).

All these poor areas are getting poorer – because educational access is the key to social mobility.

I’ll come back to Dublin in a second, but outside Dublin the report also shows that significant disparities still exist between counties. While the national average shows that 52 per cent of all 30-to-34-year-olds have third level degrees – which is the highest in Europe and a great achievement for our country – only 40 per cent of kids from counties like Donegal and Laois attend college.

Why does Donegal lag behind, while Cork doesn’t? What’s going on in Kilkenny, that isn’t in Laois? These are questions that we need to answer, but the inter-county differences are reasonably modest and the overall uplift in education in the past 20 years has been significant, so there’s less of a concern regarding inter-county performance.

Let’s go back to Dublin, because the disparities in the city are really shocking. They are third-world-versus-first-world kinds of differences. When one suburb is sending 99 per cent of its kids to university and another suburb, less than three miles away, is barely sending 15 per cent, we have an apartheid problem.

There are many, many reasons why some children don’t do well in school in comparison to other children, and there are many more people better qualified than me who can explain why this is the case. However, these figures reveal a monumental failure of educational policy in this country.

Education is probably the most important policy used to minimise inequality in a society. The result of a society that gives all its citizens a fair a chance is a sophisticated economy. Education gives people hope and gives people a stake in society. Why do you think there isn’t a Ferguson, Missouri in Germany?

Maybe it is because Germany seeks to, and has largely succeeded in, using its education system to address inequality without compromising quality.

In Ireland, we made enormous strides in giving the rural poor, such as the kids of small farmers, free education, but we have failed the urban poor. A big song and dance was made of eliminating university fees and it was sold as a big move in opening up access to higher education.

But this is only cosmetic, because the educational damage is done early, very early. By the age of five, a kid’s chances are already determined.

Studies show that the key to good educational outcomes is massive early intervention to balance other negative familial factors such as income, parental attitude and the environment you grow up in.

Pouring money into reducing class sizes and providing resource teachers and equipment later on is not as effective as you might think. The problem is that by the time these measures kick in it’s far too late. Disparity in educational achievement between one child and another does not develop over a school career. It only widens.

If one child arrives in school able to read and another child of the same age doesn’t know how to open a book, the gap is already there. Early intervention in education is the key to minimising problems caused by a negative home environment. It is also a good way to involve parents who might not otherwise have become involved in their child’s education.

American research shows that investment in education pays for itself when it is done early. Believe it or not, the cost-benefit ratio of early intervention is measured at eight to one. Later measures such as resource teaching and reduction in class size are in no way as effective. The benefit decreases as the child gets older.

Despite knowing this, our investment in pre-primary education is negligible and our spending on primary and secondary education is well below the OECD average. Yet we give free college places to the kids of D6.

But what is the point in spending vast amounts of money on university if we have whole sections of society that have no hope of getting there? What use are free third level fees when the only people availing of them can afford to pay?

Otherwise, 99 per cent of kids from the already rich and comfortable classes get their stake reinforced and the others, just up the road, haven’t a hope.

If you doubt how close we all live to each other and how divided our society is, just hop on the number 18 bus from Ballyfermot to Sandymount via Ranelagh, look out the window and watch opportunity disappear.

  1. Tull McAdoo

    Nail on the head David, nail on the head.

  2. VincentH

    You know how they’ll solve this problem. They’ll redraw the boundaries so the 6, 6w, 12 and 10 will be folded into one statistical area.
    On your substantive point. Yes most of the problems are there from the preschool. However, remember that the 15% from D10 or the people from council estates all over the Stare who did succeed in gaining a degree are further handicapped. They have to earn a living. Not for them the Richard Bruton route where a rich daddy can cover their costs of living while they ‘intern’.

    • michaelcoughlan

      “However, remember that the 15% from D10 or the people from council estates all over the Stare who did succeed in gaining a degree are further handicapped. They have to earn a living. Not for them the Richard Bruton route where a rich daddy can cover their costs of living while they ‘intern’”


      Plus the fact that if they show real talent they become a threat to the “chosen ones” being groomed to take over the family firm so you really are up against it.

    • Deco

      Well, then there is the bit, where they get the degree – and because they were not playing the correct sports, they get their day wasted in an interview.

      That happened to me in respect to an Irish bank that later went bankrupt. A sur-real experience. There is a culture of active discrimination in the Irish banks against anybody who is not committed to the preservation of a certain social class.

      No wonder the banks went bankrupt. Hiring people on the basis of the new employees being similar to the idiots who were in charge of it.

      Ha Ha Ha Ha.

      Support your local credit union :)

      • Gearoid O Dubhain

        Deco, the Labour Party appears to have more active politicans who were formerly employed in banks than the other parties ! As for a certain former labour party leader who was a prominent rugby player and sits on the baords of financial institutions, what can I say !
        In fact it is beginning to look like labour are the real Tofffs Party ! M D Higgins is more concerned about presenting himself as a great ‘intellectual’ than worried about the people who voted for him !

        • Higgins is a f*ckin’ eejit.

          • Gearoid O Dubhain

            Adam I believe that your reply qualifies as being succinct and to the point ! And given the perjoratvie ‘W’ term Higgins used to describe one US radio Host, surely Higgins could not object to your use of colorful language !

        • Deco

          Incidentally, you have a point.

          Amazing who the LP and FF – both pretenders to be “of the people” seem to be so well connected with “problem banks”.

          Especially, of relevance, is Anglo – the toxic bank. Toxic politicians.

  3. ak8

    David, I have to say I’m actually shocked that Irish education spending is below the OECD average. That’s extremely disappointing!! A terrible reflection on the powers that be.

    In a related matter, the majority of OECD countries are NATO members, or at least have a better equipped military than Ireland. NATO members are theoretically required to spend 2% of GDP on their military. Ireland spends a LOT less…. maybe around 0.5% (I think). Have you any idea where that extra 1.5% actually goes? If we are saving on fighter jets, you’d think we’d have better than average spending on education! Does it go on health, roads… where!?

    • michaelcoughlan

      I am not sure exactly how you went from education to nato to fighter jets but the 1.5% goes to the black hole called the shitpile of legacy banking debt.

      • ak8

        It might not be an obvious link. So the question has also bandied around in the back of my mind…… where do the defense savings go? Evidently not on education!

        Ireland apparently (wiki) has the 11th lowest defense spending per unit of GDP in the World. By comparison, other small countries around the World with whom we compete for investment e.g. Israel, Singapore, Taiwan… all have sizeable spending.

        The defense savings should give us a competitive advantage, in that we can spend more on education, or training or infrastructure, but they don’t seem to. Therefore, I am curious where the extra spending goes! Irish classes in the Dáil?

        I just think that it’s incredible that even though we should have an extra €2-3 billion a year to play around with, that we don’t spend at least the OECD average on education.

        Anyway, that’s my two cents for the day! Maybe I am asking too much, by expecting Government spending to be rational, efficient, optimised and well planned!

  4. Pat Flannery

    One of your best yet David. You should use your considerable talents on social issues, like this one education, where you can do the most good.

    If Ireland continues down this dysfunctional social path its fiscal economics will become irrelevant. Ireland has a longstanding and severe social problem, not an economic problem. I believe it was this inbuilt dysfunctional social paradigm that caused the Great Famine.

    The 1847 national equivalent of the folks in D6 became mega-rich from famine prices and their descendants still rule Ireland today. The problem has never been addressed and Independence merely exacerbated it.

  5. michaelcoughlan


    The article I am sure is well researched. I feel that where the people who do succeed in getting qualified and who are from the lower socio economic areas (and indeed even graduates from other more affluent areas) fall by the wayside is they often struggle to get the vital 2 years of experience necessary to add to their CV just after they qualify.

    If the government really wanted to ensure that they got a satisfactory ROI they would out in place an apprentice programme like in Germany for the graduates directly after they qualified and ensure that their entry level salaries were sufficient to provide them with a dignified standard of living and not the GOD AWFUL scambridge programme forcing entry level wages into the gutter

    It would make a huge difference.

  6. CorkRob

    The populous tone of this article unnerves me a tad David – who are all the FREE College place recipients in D6 ?
    My in-laws come from D6 and while one went to Art College, the other 5 went to work and did very nicely , thank you very much.
    Isn’t 3rd level “FREE” for everyone ? Isn’t it just the “Registration Fee” that anyone must pay these days – even if that is c €2500 ??
    Hasn’t free Primary & Secondary education been available to all for many years in this country?
    Don’t Labour make sure that Public Schools get a more advantageous subvention per pupil than private schools (19-1 Public Vs 23-1 Private) and the government pay for all buildings, facilities and activities too.
    There are many social reasons why kids from these poor areas might not do as well as kids from more affluent areas – parental ability to assist kids in early years and throughout school going years might be less if the parents were more blue-collar than academically educated workers.
    Not everyone can be University educated – every economy needs manual/technical workers and tradesmen to function properly.

    As for Donegal, it is a long way from any ROI University – perhaps it is the cost of accommodation and travel that is having such a negative effect on statistics there !?

    My own kids are supported by 3rd level grants (I’m an unemployed University Graduate myself) and I personally know plenty of friends I made at University who were supported by the Grant system and who came from Working Class areas and have all prospered very well, Thank You very much !

    There is no easy solution on this matter – the whole process needs re-evaluation and reverse engineering to work out how to equip our younger generations for the future needs of the workplace. Currently we rely too much on a historical model that’s beyond it’s sell-by date.

    BUt we also need tradesmen and manual/technical workers who know how to make and fix things – we’ve lost sight of the importance of that but our European counterparts haven’t – especially in Germany, and they are doing very nicely while we are struggling with nothing more than aspirations and recriminations about our economy.

    It’s not all about Class Divide and privilege.

    • HTH

      Spot on CorkRob, there is definitely a hint of “blame the rich” or “blame the government” here. I think David is trying to infer that unequal outcomes are largely as a result of unequal opportunities, but I think he is overstating the part money plays in achieving the results necessary to qualify for 3rd level.

      The danger of this message is that it may demotivate people who do not have the resources for paid grinds or courses.

      Some people (including my own sister!) are starting to believe that grinds are essential to achieve good results, and that parents who don’t stump up the cash are somehow negligent. This is not true, of course grinds can help, but people can do very well without them. Luckily my sister is now aware of a close relative who got mega-points without paying for any help. He did this through his own hard work, with encouragement and practical support from his family (giving him time and space to study, doing his washing, cooking, ironing, etc).

      • Pat Flannery

        HTH: on a humorous note – “grind” means something rather different in America, certainly not a word you would use in a same sentence with your sister :)

    • mcsean2163

      Primary and secondary is for all, third level is restricted entry. Essentially, university is free for the rich and inaccessible to the poor.

      Your in-laws are the exception.

  7. Irish PI

    Also the Germans don’t just rely on the “learning factory” method of education like here where getting johnny and janey into an approved academic course in life in an office is the be and end all of parental achivement.By the time you are in secondary school they can pretty much wether you will be suitable for either “Gymnasium” [Academic and bookish inclined] “Real schule” Middle of the roaders,not Einsteins,but not utter clods either, and “Technische fach hoch schule” For those of a technical bent and who want to be anything from a house painter to a robotics engineer.Even if that doesnt suit you can do a five year apprenticeship and come out with a recognised guild diploma.

    Germans dont look down on you because you have a “trade”.They recognise the fact that someone has to go and fix the Mercedes when it breaks down,or the chminey needs cleaning. and it doesnt make you any worse to belong to the “working class”.Ireland OTOH it is an eternal shame if you work with your hands as it is still considerd manual labour.Yet how many German “Kaufmanner”[Trans buisness men] actually went to “the Tech” for their degree qualifications??
    We really need to stop thinking of “mug and jug” production line education system here with everything riding on one final exam at the end of secondary school that decides your entire future in Ireland.

  8. HTH

    I think David might be reading too much into this. The disparity is not really surprising. There is a brain-drain from poorer areas to richer areas.

    In general, people with degrees have access to higher paying jobs and tend to live in or move to richer areas. Children of these people are more likely to receive a good education through nurture and nature. So those children are unlikely to move to a poorer area.

    When people from poorer areas (like me) gain access to 3rd level and well paying jobs, they often move away from the poorer areas, so their kids will then be counted as coming from the richer area.

    BTW, if the 15% in Coolock and Darndale, seem unnaturally low, then maybe the people from those areas have to bear some responsibility themselves. Awareness of the points system and the importance of education is at an all time high and there are a lot of free educational resources on the internet. Also the teachers in the schools of that area should look at how they can help the natural “swats” of the class to achieve top marks.

  9. [...] “There’s something about Dublin 6. Don’t you think? For years, I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. It was a strange sensation. What was it? Was it the solid redbricks, the good taste, the drop-in Pilates classes, the sensitively old Volvos, or maybe the Gonzaga waiting list? …” (more) [...]

  10. Excellent post. I think you’re right to focus on the result, rather than on the causes – let’s get that straight first.
    I totally disagree with HTH, a disparity of this order is not a given in a civilised society.
    As regards HTH’s comment on cause “BTW, if the 15% in Coolock and Darndale, seem unnaturally low, then maybe the people from those areas have to bear some responsibility themselves.”
    Sounds like balderdash to me, where is the evidence for this hypothesis?

    • HTH

      Hi Cormac R, my comment is based on personal experience in a average school in a poorer area. Access to 3rd level is controlled through the CAO system which is based on academic results. So if you get the results you get the place. And a small number of students in my school worked hard/smart enough to achieve the results. However, this was not the “norm” and there was a pass culture, whereby teachers gave the impression that a C was a good result. There was no expectation for anyone to get high 500′s and no focus on exam technique, marking schemes, or even the structure of the papers.

      I learned later that other schools do focus on marking schemes, exam technique, etc. This information is not top secret, teachers can attend free seminars where marking schemes are explained and parents can also find similar information in newspaper supplements and even radio shows.

      There some examples of kids from very poor areas gaining access to courses like medicine etc, so its not impossible.

      BTW – what possible causes would you suggest for the low figures in certain areas?

  11. In an effort to find out where Dublin 6 is, because I have no clue, my search results brought up this (seeing as Google ‘knows’ I am in New York at the moment):

    Seems like a good marketing ploy, I was down that way yesterday and didn’t know about it, I might check it out later.

    So back to trying to find out where the real Dublin 6 is…

  12. colmbgarvey

    Very interesting (if not a “tad” populist as mentioned above). I do look forward to and will search for your article the next time racial or “have/have not” protests/riots break out in Germany.

  13. rebean

    Would it make any difference if someone in Ireland had a degree from a poor area ? After all there are no jobs. I am working with people abroad who have no leaving cert or a bad one at best . They can earn 600 euro a week while people in Ireland have Master degrees and no work. where do we find work for all these people. I also know plumbers on 900 quid a week and one of their brothers sits in Ireland a qualified architect lablouring on 50 euro a day. what is a degree really worth anyway unless its backed up by contacts and favouritism.

  14. EugeneN

    In general this post wouldn’t be out of place in the IT. Which isn’t necessarily a compliment.

    It’s important to get some colour on the stats. I went to college in 1992 and as far as I remember we were told we were the privileged 25%. David says

    ” the areas with the lowest rates of progression to third level among 17-to-19-year-olds are Dublin 1 (28 per cent), Dublin 22 (31 per cent), Dublin 2 (31 per cent), Dublin 8 (33 per cent), Dublin 11 (28 per cent) and Dublin 24 (29 per cent).”

    All of those areas beat the entire country when I went.

    If you consider third level as not for everybody, and for people of above ( rather than at, or close to) average intelligence, these statistics are not all the frightening. Even D10 and D17 are sending more people to university than the country probably sent to uni a mere decade before I went. And clearly not everybody in D6 is going to university.

    The German system might work, but it would only work if there were jobs for these apprentices at the end, in Germany – alone in Europe at keeping it’s industrial sector — there are, elsewhere not so much.

    I doubt if education makes people “rich” either, although it may stop people getting poorer. It would an Irish teacher, or a few hundred times more time than homo sapiens has existed to save enough to beat Roman Abronovich.

    Who knows if people with trades might in fact not do better in future, if not already, that the media studies grad. The assumption that university = richer may well flounder in the future, if not already.

  15. Gearoid O Dubhain

    This is a very selective article on education, equality and unemployment. Increasingly the sector most likely to suffer from long term structural unemployment are those from the middle classes, including those with degrees, who are being permanently replaced by sophisticated technology and and software packages and by having their jobs outsourced to foreign countries. Example, I know one Irish company which employed two polish workers doing autocad work here in Ireland but which now hires them as subcontractors, operating from their homes in Poland, – a win win solution for the company and the two polish people but the Irish economy has lost the monies paid to those subcontractors and the polish economy has gained.
    The article ignores the fact that many of the ‘well paid’ middle classes who wont qualify for grants are in reality ‘cash starved’ and are increasingly less able to educate their children than those in lower paid ‘ qulaify for everything’categories. Whilst the article refers to Germany, it pretty much ignores the reality that non univeristy training is respected in germany. This article is in effect contributing to heightening the ‘snob value’ of university education and downgrading, if not denigrating, the value of non university education and training alternatives. It is in effect a very ‘Dalkey’ attitude ! Maybe tradespeople still have to use the rear domestics entrances in the select suburb of Dublin 6 Dalkey ?

    • Bamboo

      Couldn’t agree more with all you said.
      Regarding subcontracting – it is quite common companies employ and develop IT related skills in-house and later, when projects are scarce, these employees are let go and start up their own businesses – bringing home experience and skills of the trade. The company then doesn’t have to deal with all the painful overheads of hardware and software licenses.
      (I believe ArchiCad is more the industry standard in Germany rather AutoCad).

      This also applies to the localization, animation and video-editing industry I believe. All there is left in Ireland is often a highly paid skeleton staff and often very talented PMs looking after the management of these projects.

  16. EugeneN

    Anybody understand the low score in Dublin 13 – area that includes Sutton, Howth, and North County Dublin? 36%

  17. SMOKEY

    I grew up in a semi poor area, good schools, but the neighbourhood was wanting. Didn’t have to go more than a half mile, one direction to see the even poorer area, and half mile to see an even richer area. A mile away started getting even better and within a mile and a half, RICH!
    I delivered papers into these areas both poor and rich for many years as a boy. I always loved the feel of the rich areas, early 5 a.m. dew on the grass, fancy houses and cars in the driveways. And this was in Des Moines Iowa back in 1973-75.
    We weren’t college people, they were. Most of my friends from that time have survived, a couple are in jail, and one is dead. But the stage was set for either getting a clue at some point in life, or not, and most didn’t.
    I think a bit of natural ability and brain power can play a large part in your future success, there is very little college that can help a dimwit no matter how much money is spent on him. And as for the ignorant parents? I don’t see much future in intervention with them either, too stupid to be able to grasp the value even if it were handed to them.
    As for Ferguson? Watch Chris Rocks video on “how not to piss off the police”

  18. Gearoid O Dubhain

    ” Otherwise, 99 per cent of kids from the already rich and comfortable classes get their stake reinforced and the others, just up the road, haven’t a hope.” David is a well known economist so I suggest his readers are entitled to a certain degree of precision in his language and use of language and he fails abjectedly in this sentence. This sentence is virtually meaningless and worthless as a part of any reasoned analysis and as a contribution to debate. Sorry David, maybe if I was employed, and maybe if it wasn’t monday, I wouldn’t be quite so intemperate about this. I know several men from ‘ the comfortable classes’ who have committed suicide, some leaving families behind. Many apparently in the ‘comfortable classes’ are struggling – ask St Vincent de Paul. Who are the ‘rich’ in Ireland. The records of the bankruptcy courts suggest that ireland has enormously fewer rich people than we thought. Do the comfortable classes not include those whose mortgages are paid off and who have entitlments to large tax free termination payments, relatively early retirement and good index linked guaranteed pensions ? Which includes much of the public sector and parts of the priavate sector with defined benefits pensions ?

    • Bamboo

      Gearoid, you’re on a roll here.

    • juniorjb

      In fairness Gearoid, you object to imprecision yet your own post leans heavily on anecdotal evidence and intuition e.g. “I know several men”, “many apparently in the comfortable classes”, “the records of the bankruptcy courts suggest”. The position of the middle classes may have disimproved recently, but I suspect you are as yet still talking about a relatively small slide from an already privileged position, the brunt of which has been borne disproportionally by specific individuals rather than spread evenly across a class that otherwise enjoys good salaries, job benefits and prospects. To wax anecdotal myself, many middle-class professionals I know complain bitterly of the curse of negative equity as the single great hardship visited on them by the downturn. As almost none of them intend on selling their houses anyway, this has no effect on them outside of the mental event of their choosing to lament it. I wouldn’t start characterizing them as the new downtrodden just yet. But then, that’s anecdote for you.

      • Gearoid O Dubhain

        Then let me go from the anecdotal to the personal; despite being in the autumn of my life and despite the fact I would occur a serious capital loss if I sold my house now, I have already taken the first tentative steps in seeking employment abroad. I never thought I would emigrate but circumstances have forced my hand; the fact that I am unemployed but am barred from registering as unemployed or accessing any of the states re-training or re-education schemes has focused my mind very much on what is a distinctly uncertain future,I had assumed I would be one of those who by remaining for life in my present abode would not need to worry personally about property prices.

        • juniorjb

          I’m sorry to hear that Gearoid and best of luck getting back on your feet.

        • Bamboo

          I’ve found myself living abroad for the past year as a tag-along husband. We’ve also left our property, car and furnishings to our children as they found impossible to find suitable affordable rented accomodation. They are starting their own families now and we are glad that we can help them out.
          Wishing you all th best Gearoid.

  19. michaelcoughlan


    I re read the article from a different perspective and the thought occurred to me that there is an underlying assumption which is increasingly false in my view that a third level education or highly skilled trade qualifications leads to prosperity and good quality levels of income. Let me explain;

    First of all it is worth remembering that in some cases Irish society is becoming overeducated and under skilled. That though is not the point of this post.

    Take yourself McWilliams. Educated to a very high level on all matters economic and realized that doing the job properly in economic circles was the WORST thing possible so you reinvent yourself as a media guy and good luck to you. Now you know where this is going; How many people in Irish Politics, the civil service, the professions, banking, construction/property/estate agency who tried to do the right thing based on their education and professional training and got fucked for doing so were sidelined for promotion and how many half animal assholes got 10’s of millions or massive salaries for protecting the toxic status quo?

    I know many highly qualified and talented tradesmen who worked lights out during the busy period who have had to forego their careers because the wages have been driven into the gutter from a combination of the recession and unrelenting competition from dirt cheap foreign labor. I also know many qualified professionals like Qs’s and PMrs who have had to emigrate to countries that pay wages which allow them to provide for their families unlike here. In my view it’s erroneous to consider the observation re education and trades qualifications on a person’s social mobility from the narrow focus of such education and training WITHOUT also examining the wider economic context into which these people are discharged after their training and education is complete.



    • Gearoid O Dubhain

      Very good post Michael which cuts to the chase ! The reality is that much debate in Ireland is utterly meaningless and avoids the hard reality you refer to. I might a note, I have attended a few third level lectures given by people who seemed barely qualified to attend those lectures much less qualified to give the lecture ! The nonsense that Ireland had one of the best education systems in the world was well and truly exposed for the nonsense it was though that didnt prevent the handing out of millions in early retirement schemes and the need to fund gold plated pensions for decades to come.

    • michaelcoughlan

      “half animal assholes got 10’s of millions or massive salaries for protecting the toxic status quo?”

      For example David;

      The only thing rising faster than the bonuses in banking are the size of the fines the banks have to pay or should I say the shareholders and customers must pay the fines……..

  20. Thanks for all the comments. Some very interesting points along with the usual personal stuff:)



  21. Adelaide

    This problem and most other ills of Irish society can be neatly explained by the conclusion I slowly came to after years of travelling the length and breath of this country on business, and compare and contrasting it with my years abroad.
    The single reason behind most of our problems is..
    Drum Roll, please.
    The Irish do not like each other.
    They really Really do not like each other.

    From this observation a lot of Ireland’s problems become clear. The disregard for each other is systemic and manifests itself in recurring societal dysfunctions because, on the quiet, the Irish actually despise each other.

    • michaelcoughlan

      “the Irish actually despise each other”

      We especially despise our siblings. Any one of them gets on or tries to. Sure your man is full of shit and so forth.

    • Deco

      They like pretending the be patriots, engaging in meaningless acts of public display that range from outright stupidity, to prepared pretension. If any of that is performed smelling of alcohol, then it is even more superficially accentuated.

      A lot of such activity can be placed in a category called “donning the Green jersey”.

    • pauloriain

      Absolutely correct and evidenced by the fact that foreigners always point out how friendly Ireland is, but as a native you never really come across the level of friendliness towards foreigners. Irish people love to meet foreigners in Ireland because there is so much home grown prejudice.

  22. HRH: It seems to me what the study under discussion clearly shows is that examples of kids getting to college despite disadvantaged backgrounds are few are far between. Of course there are some exceptions, but the point is that they are few.
    As regards explanation, David macW’s point on early learning is probably the most relevant. A huge number of studies show that it is extremely difficult to overcome educational disadvantage in the early years. It seems to me that you continually confuse anecdotal experience with general trends well established by large scale studies…

    • HTH

      Cormac R, your comments come across as very disrespectful.

      I do not continually confuse anecdotal experience with general trends. I did not suggest that the experiences of a few people I described contradict the overall trend.

      I think we agree that the overall trend is that people from people from poorer areas are less likely to get a degree. The correlation is undeniable. The cause is debatable. The article mentions “parental attitude and the environment you grow up in” but seems to suggest that money is the main cause. I think there is more to it than that. I’m not saying that money cannot help, but the experiences of the people I described show that money is not necessary to qualify for 3rd level.

      I also did not deny that it is extremely difficult to overcome educational disadvantage in the early years. However, again I have to question the link between income and early educational disadvantage. Is it a causation relationship or just a correlation? Is there another factor that causes both the low income of the parents and the below par academic standards of the young child?

      The idea that personal and parental responsibility plays a part in accessing 3rd level education is not “balderdash”. Its not a given that parental responsibility is uniform across richer and poorer areas. Parental influence kicks in from an early age, as does other factors like natural ability, willingness to listen, behavior of older siblings, etc.

      Here are some other factors other than income that could affect a childs academic performances:

      - Quality of teaching
      - Help from friends and family
      - Expectation level/Peer pressure/Performance and effort of class mates/friends
      - Natural ability
      - Home environment (do they have space and time to study)
      - Interest level of the child (are they into books, etc)

      I think these factors are worth considering.

      • juniorjb

        It might be beside the point but I remember discussing this with someone who worked for one of the universities and whose job included traveling to disadvantaged areas to promote third level education. This was shortly after the introduction of free fees I think. She told me that most of her work consisted of simply making people aware of the fact that third level might be an option and of how you would go about accessing it. It seems there was generally no expectation of, no peer support for and no real knowledge or familiarity with entry to the third level system. Twenty years ago now but perhaps not irrelevant and I suspect still part of the problem.

  23. Deco

    Dublin post code districts.

    D6/D6W are extremely expensive areas. They are also very well policed.

    Was there not an incident where a prominent FF politician achieved a “redrawing of the map” to enable residents in one area to get a different post code on their address – and thus increase the market price of their residences ?

    Dublin 6 includes Milltown, Ranelagh, Rathmines (including Dartry), and Rathgar).
    Dublin 6W includes Harold's Cross, Templeogue, and Terenure.

    These districts are close to Belfield and Trinners. And close to a lot of “schools rugby”. [ how to teach your brat the sport with the worst injuries ].

    • Thanks for that ‘enlightenment’ Deco.

    • Thriftcriminal

      Templeogue is not close to Belfield or Trinners, it’s out beside Rathfarnham and Walkinstown. However Terenure and Templeogue do both have fee paying rugby schools. So does North inner city though; Belvadere.

      D6 has Gonzaga, Mary’s, Highschool, Terenure College, Templeogue College, Andrews and probably a couple of others I am forgetting, and that is just the boys schools. Fee paying schools might have something to do with it.

  24. stevedonog33

    Although the figures are shocking I do not agree that education is any indicator of social mobility any more. Recent studies from the UK indicate that graduate salariesare dropping dramatically. Another one done over the last ten years showed graduates were actually worse off than their class mates who did not go to college. An article in the IT indicated a large rise in construction salaries. Wake up folks. Piketty’s book surely shows we are entering a new feudal age: its all about inheritance, not education. Most of those 99 percent will be doing mea

    • EugeneN

      Thats absolutely right. The richest guy I grew up with in rural Ireland did not, had no reason to, and didn’t want to go to further education. He inherited a pub and a hotel or two. Hardly super rich either. The educated are just – with the exception of a few barristers – the new working classes.

  25. stevedonog33

    Oops meaningless jobs. Its the last sting of a dying middle class

  26. DB4545

    We’ve done the wailing and hand wringing now how about some solutions?

    1. Abolish the grant system for third level and introduce a universal student loan system as in Australia. The grant system allows the self employed (from the small farmer to the well heeled barrister) to rig the system so their children qualify for the grant. If students are required to take out a loan for a degree in “sports management” or “media studies” they will assess if realistic job prospects exist in those fields and perhaps choose more wisely with their own money rather than taxpayers money.
    2. Abolish the revenue schemes which effectively give 100 million Euros to the “elite” private schools and redirect the funds to disadvantaged schools at primary and second level. The private schools won’t go out of business. They are a social network rather than an educational benchmark and the wealthy will still be prepared to segregate their children. It just means taxpayers won’t have to pay for funding this segregation.
    3.Use European law to enforce access to the professions notably medicine and law. The “devilling” system for barristers and HPAT are designed purely as barriers to entry in order to limit access to the affluent and the well connected.
    4. Develop or return apprenticeships to the “ANCO” model which was in place in the 1980′s. I completed my apprenticeship under this system and my technical qualifications were well regarded in Germany,Australia, The UK and the US. The “FAS” schemes are a complete and utter waste of time and taxpayers resources. Choose a model of technical education that works and the German system is a proven winner. No need to re-invent the wheel.

    I’m from one of the areas that David mentioned (D8). My third level qualifications are from a British University (BSc). Travel broadened my horizons and my academic interests. But I can assure you that my school in D8 was not steering its pupils towards Trinity or UCD. I hope that’s changed. The present system is not fit for purpose in any modern democracy.

    • HTH

      Good idea:
      If students are required to take out a loan for a degree in “sports management” or “media studies” they will assess if realistic job prospects exist in those fields and perhaps choose more wisely with their own money rather than taxpayers money.

      Only caveat is that the taxpayer should also the study of certain subjects that don’t have immediate financial value to the student , but have long term benefits to the country/economy: e.g. advanced scientific research, cultural studies, etc.

      Bad idea:
      Abolish the revenue schemes which effectively give 100 million Euros to the “elite” private schools

      This would be biting the hands that feed us. Our tax system is already very progressive, so those that earn more, contribute the most by far. In return they big earners get the same same level of government services as everyone else: roads, street lights, libraries, policing, etc. Removing the education subsidy from these schools would be punishing the parents unfairly. Firstly you are picking on the parents who choose to spend their after-tax earnings on education, while other wealthy parents can still take advantage of the subsidy by sending their kids to a non fee paying school. Secondly, all parents of these schools would be hit equally, whether they can barely afford the fees, or easily afford the fees.

      • DB4545

        I think you’re being slightly disingenuous in relation to the private schools and also in relation to government services generally. They are hardly being hit equally if one group of parents can easily afford the fees and others have to struggle. I concede that some parents on modest incomes make enormous sacrifices to fund the education of their children. That is absolutely their choice and the parents focus on education is admirable. The point I’m making is that many of these schools are a social network rather than an academic benchmark for excellence. I’m at a loss to understand why most taxpayers on very modest incomes should be forced to fund this social network when these scarce tax resources could be used in areas of real deprivation.
        In relation to government services generally perhaps conduct this experiment. Phone the Gardai at 2am and tell them you have a burglar in the house subject the following conditions:
        1. You give your address as Raglan Road D4.
        2. You give your address as Corduff Road D15.
        3. You give your address as a farm in rural County Mayo.
        Check the response times and then tell me we have equality of services.
        In relation to government services specifically look at exam results for non private schools located in the most affluent postcodes or maybe just visit the schools and see how effectively they’re resourced both in terms of staff and facilities compared with disadvantaged areas.The system is rigged to favour the wealthy but funded by people on very modest incomes. The real question is why the Citizens of this State have allowed it to continue for so long.

  27. 24dinitro

    We are wasting to much money on 3rd level.

    Graduates are conditioned to find a nice safe job. Until more of them are encouraged to have an entrepreneurial mentality will we see much of a change?

    Spend the money on early stage primary.

    I wonder what proportion of jobs in the real economy are created by graduates v non grads.

    • Bamboo

      We’ve had a discussion on the contrasting property prices in South Dublin comparing to the rest of the country. How anyone in Dublin South owning property are so lucky to be there instead of the rest of the country. Now we have a discussion on how Dublin 6 in particular are the lucky ones, with their third-level going offspring. D6 must be delighted with this article – that will boost up their properties as well.

      All we need now is a discussion which D-number in Dublin is the most artistic people, with the coolest vegetarian restaurants, designer organic shops, etc. Where people spend less on their mobiles but read papers and books in their local coffee shop, where people have time to catch up with friends during the day and enjoy a light lunch in a café, where they parade with their beautiful kids, where women get their hair blow-dried before office hours, where people share one bottle of wine for lunch instead of the 4 and more pints each, where people talk art exhibitions, theatre, poetry, jazz and classical music and modern literature. Where people are exchanging notes on exotic holiday destinations but in fact they really suffer from is travel fatigue.

      Where is the coolest place in Dublin?

  28. Mike Lucey

    A lot of primary school kids are taught in leaky, unhygienic, dilapidated, rodent infested very old sub-standard porta cabins throughout the country. As for pre-school facilities, forget it unless the parents are quite well to do.

    I agree with David’s point that the younger the kids are when they receive their first steps in education the better. The question is how can this be achieved when the parents may not be very well educated themselves or do not have funds for pre-school education.

    I think one answer might well be the utilization of our state television / radio company, RTE. If they were to take on this role I would feel far less peeved at paying a TV license or whatever scam is now intended.

    If a reasonable effort was made to provide a quality pre-school curriculum possibly twined with Internet backup, it could go a long way. Maybe it could even be required as a soft prerequisite for primary school entry.

  29. Are you ready to stand up and fight the right revolution? brown revolution&sm=1

  30. Gambit

    I’d suggest that one’s family and parents would be a bigger influence on the decision to go to third level or not. And indeed on the child’s early development in the first place.
    There may be plenty of parents who want their child to “do better” than they did, but simply do not have the knowledge or resources to provide that critical early intervention that will encourage a child to learn and flourish from the get-go. You can throw all the resources you like into an education system, but if the child isn’t encouraged to engage with it, then it’s money down the drain.
    My suggestion – to provide online education for current and wannabe parents on strategies that will encourage a child to progress. Things like story-telling, imaginative play ideas, problem-solving games, etc. This could use something like the Khan Academy (check it out, it’s bloody brilliant) as a model for the delivery of that education to parents.
    Unfortunately there will always be parents who couldn’t give a crap either way, but no parent should have the excuse that “no-one showed me what to do”.

  31. Pat Flannery

    This discussion in many ways parallels the discussion raging in America right now following the shooting in Ferguson about “family culture”.

    Many whites want to blame the social and economic problems being experienced by blacks in America on something the whites call black family culture, which is of course racism in a fancy name. Is the same thing happening in Dublin? Are North City people the blacks of Dublin as Roddy Doyle suggested in “The Commitments”? Is David McWilliams rights in calling what is happening in Dublin “Education Apartheid”?

    I think it is time Dubliners started listening to both Doyle and McWilliams, that there is “something rotten in the State of Denmark”. It will be interesting to see what the U.S. Attorney General William Holder, reports to his President Barack Obama, both black men. Perhaps there will be a lesson for Dublin in how Americans deal with their latest racial/social crises.

  32. [...] Blog David McWilliams – Irland. Die Wahrscheinlichkeit, dass ein Schulabgänger in Dublin ein Studium beginnt, ist um ein Vielfaches höher, wenn er aus einem vergleichsweise wohlhabenden Bezirk kommt. Das ergab eine in der vergangenen Woche vorgestellte Studie der irischen Behörde für Hochschulwesen. Die irische Bildungspolitik ist gescheitert, klagt Ökonom David McWilliams in seinem Blog: “Das sind Unterschiede wie zwischen Industrieländern und Entwicklungsländern. Wenn ein Dubliner Außenbezirk 99 Prozent seiner Kinder zur Universität schickt und ein anderer, nicht einmal drei Kilometer entfernter Vorort gerade einmal 15 Prozent, dann haben wir ein Apartheid-Problem. Es gibt eine Vielzahl von Gründen, warum einige Kinder in der Schule im Vergleich zu anderen weniger gut abschneiden. Und es gibt viele, die besser als ich dazu geeignet sind, die Ursachen zu erklären. Kennzahlen wie diese offenbaren jedoch ein monumentales Scheitern der Bildungspolitik in diesem Land.” (26.08.2014) +++… [...]

  33. Father Bartholomew Foolemall

    Great article David. Appalling statistics. The idiocy and snobbery of “exclusivity” in relation to Dublin post codes has always amused me. I still maintain that a decent cricket bowler could get a ball from Fortlawn in Blanch to the edge of Myos car park in Castlknock. Yet, the people from both those areas are worlds apart in terms of equity in our society. There is something rotten in the state of Ireland and it could be the banana’s!

  34. Having recently spent some time in Ballymun & Finglas, this article resonates. One night I walked back to Santry from O’Connell Street via Phibsboro, Drumcondra & UCD. A very LONG walk on a humid moonlit night, but extremely interesting to watch as the cityscape changed from tourist/methadone clinic central to residual working class/middle class to abandoned/MIA class.

    @stevedonog33 “its all about inheritance, not education” Spot on, but it doesn’t need a death to begin that process. From the birth of a loved child with aspirational parents, the rift between those born to good luck and those born to damaged, dysfunctional or criminal parents begins. If your folks see you as part of a Lineage Project & thus invest in Gaelscoil pre-school & top-notch nutrition & exercise, you’re already being hot-housed and plugged into the Networking Matrix which will follow on through to Uni & careers.

    And it isn’t just the Rich, my Dad was a bus driver but had the same value set, just with lesser resources to share with 6 kids. He did the right thing, yet others of his peer group were total trash who only had kids because they didn’t understand contraception, couldn’t come out as gay, beat their wives & kids, drank the house-keeping money. Etc.

    There is no Postcode Lottery, it isn’t a lucky dip, you just need the cash to buy into future economic & social wealth. Yes, robotics will shag some of the middle class, but The Trades are no defence ‘going forward’. Look at Ireland Inc now bemoaning the lack of apprentice construction staff to build the South Dublin bunker. Why wouldn’t young people want to start working on the sitesw when they’ve seen their fathers/brothers/uncles left to rot after the boom? *thinking*

    When traveling I often switch between budget hotel & hostel with the occassional blow-out in some bling-tastic boutique nonsense. I love hostels because you meet the most amazing people even if you need ear-plugs for the snoring. Of course, in Dublin you also meet young students from Beyond The Pale who are using their limited funds creatively to try & find a way past the Norman Castle Walls of Dublin accommodation apartheid. It was the same in the 50s when my parents fled “The Emergency” in Laois to clean the Grand Houses of D4 or do that Poor Paddy On The Railway thing before they saw sense and scarpered to Birmingham, the real capital of Ireland for the last few hundred years….

    Having put up with poverty in hinterland Dublin’s dysfunctional estates or out in the sticks, I’m sure the young aspirational class of 2014 will stoically accept their dorm life without bitterly noticing the Privilege of those beyond the methadone alleys of Moore Lane, Parnell Square & Mountjoy……

    “Are you a student attending a higher level education course in Dublin this Autumn? Are you a little concerned about finding accommodation in Dublin? We’ve got the package to help you out for the first couple of months so you can find your feet in Dublin! From €102 for a full week including breakfast and FREE membership – it’s a great short-term accommodation option to help you out…”

    Forógra na Poblachta, the Proclamation of the Irish Republic from 1916: a promise to cherish “all the children of the nation equally”

    • It’s the same the world over, but what’s different about the Irish Dream is Forógra na Poblachta, the Proclamation of the Irish Republic from 1916, which inferred a promise to cherish “all the children of the nation equally”. As the Establishment of Ireland Inc scramble to contain Tuam, how’s that one working out? This article lights the blue touch paper on the entire edifice of Inherited Privilege in Neoliberal Norman Toraigh Ireland, even if that’s not what the author intends….time for *someone* to proclaim The Second Irish Republic.
      It took the French a few goes and they still haven’t got it right, so no judgement,no blame, no shame. No need to throw the baby out with the bathwater when the Tuam Bones are given a Xtian burial. Important work is being done:

      “The Proposed Constitutional Amendment on the Child: An Initial Analysis from a CRC Perspective” Aoife Nolan

      • Gearoid O Dubhain

        Minister Jaon Burton held on to her job as a lecturer whilst drawing her politicians salary; her husband is a is a retired lecturer, her brother is a retried teacher. If you want to know who the cherished elite in ireland are; it is people like Burton and her family with gold plated tax free termination payments and indexed linked pensions for lfe. Dont make me laugh about parents sending their kids to fee paying schools being the elite; it is the Burtons, the Quinns and the Gilmores who are the elite ! It is people like Mr Higgins and his wife great ‘Intellectual “.

        • pauloriain

          Agree totally. It’s not that they are rich, it’s that they aren’t worth they money they are paid and the headline salary they are paid never takes into consideration the value of the pension. This is why there is no money for education, because it is being spent elsewhere.

          • Gearoid O Dubhain

            New entrants to the teaching profession are now effectively, through being paid lower salaries, subsidising the salary and pensions of older teachers and retired teachers. To put this into context, these young teachers are subsiding the teaching pensions paid oir payable to Joan Burton, her husband and her brother who are retired teachers/lecturers, to Ruairi Quinn, former lecturer, and other members of the Labour Party who are receiving teaching pensions or will in the not too distance future be receiving. And yet none of the irish media has the backbone to print this !

  35. DB4545

    Just did a bit of light research on the background and business interests of a quite a number of Labour TDs. It would make a a hard right Tory MP blush. Septic Republic is fairly accurate.

    • Gearoid O Dubhain

      I particularly find the idea of Ruairi Quinn attacking fee paying and single sex schools to be laughable given his own background.
      Whilst M D Higgins goes around giving lecturesa about ethics and capitalsim, he himself happily signed the legislation turning the very water we drink not a consumer product.
      Labour in Government has turned out to be far more effective at turning what should State provided services into enormous proft making industries for the Multinational sector.

    • Total kip man.

      If you believe a word they say then you are an asshole.

      A failed state and a cursed place on earth.

  36. Shane F

    Not quite how some others see it, At least a few weeks back.

    Ireland – Ireland is the best country in the world, new survey suggests.

    • LOL! Tell that to the Danes!

      “Denmark Is Considered The Happiest Country. You’ll Never Guess Why.”

      I spent a few days travelling around Bristol/Bath with my new BFF, “The Great Dane” who goes by the name of either Frank or Capser depending on his mood……It was fascinating to hear his take on the culture of these islands, particularly the alcohol abuse & failure to take advantage of free education by the ‘underclass’. And Immigration…Next year I hope to do the same in Ireland with him in tow as he’s one of the cleverest people I’ve ever met. Mind you,having survived one ‘road trip’ with Mad Paddy From Brum, I doubt if he’ll risk another episode set on the Emerald Isle….

      Does Ireland have ‘hygge’? Or just the ‘craic’? Is/was Irish Pub Culture the same support framework? Can it be re-imagined/upcycled beyond the endless pints pastiches?

      I’m starting to learn Danish, even though it’s one of the hardest languages on the planet to crack. They have royals, Inherited Privilege issues & a pig-farming crisis. There’s also the equivalent of the Oz “tall poppy syndrome”. So some find the cohesive/collectivist stuff a bit stifling, so it’s not all good, but even online, their culture resonates as 4Real…a civilisational project that isn’t just codology…Lots of Danish/Viking heritage for the folk on both islands to draw on, but not the rogue Norman Viking-French D4 stuff!Obvs….

      Having done the Go West thing to Ireland, I’ll be heading East to Denmark via York/Jorvik/Newcastle & The Faroes & Icleand to figure out the last bits of the jigsaw puzzle of how we/you/us/them came to be who we/you/us/them is/are and whether or not we/you/us/them can learn the lessons of his/herstory and reboot. Etc. It’s all good!

      “Health care is a civil right — and a source of social support -Denmark supports parents – Gender equality is prioritized – Biking is the norm – Danish culture puts a positive spin on its harsh environment-Danish culture puts a positive spin on its harsh environment-Danes feel a responsibility to one another-”

      • If you looking for your heritage Andy then you are definitely right in learning Danish and looking East, rather than looking West to the complete muppets in this direction.

        • Adam, hope all’s well.

          The Danes had a bit of a rampage in Ireland as well. But they’re like, really sorry…..I’m interested in how the cultures clashed and formed/morphed on both islands of Britain & Ireland and the Danes & Norman-French Vikings seem to have shaped the history of both, for good and bad. If Irish Royals had invaded Wales/Cheshire and captured the coal field areas, then the history of the planet would have been different? Or the same? Ireland invaded Scotland centuries before King Billy. It’s all mad stuff, this history thing, worse than ‘economics’ to unravel! See you in Kilkenny in November hopefully.

          “Danes say sorry for Viking raids on Ireland
          · We are not proud of the massacres, says minister
          · Apology marks arrival of replica longboat in Dublin”

  37. HTH

    Hi DB4545,

    Thanks for your response. I think we agree on the affect of removing subsidies for private schools – all the parents would face the same increase in fees, which is much tougher on the parents who are already struggling to afford those fees.

    Public service levels are service do vary across the country, but I think it varies according to location, rather that income level. A multi-millionaire in Mayo will get the same Gardai response time as the average Joe in Mayo.

    The private schools kids are being funded somewhat by public school parents, but most of the funding goes the other way. Public schools receive more funding than private schools, and the private school parents probably far more tax : the richest 10% of households pay almost 40% of all receipts from income tax, VAT, USC and PRSI. The second richest 10% pay a further 20%. So the top 20% of earners are paying 60% of taxes. Last time I checked, a person on €100k pays ten times more tax than someone on €25k: about 40k vs 4k.

    I went to a public school, and so will my children, so I have no vested interest in maintaining the subsidy. However, I do think it would be very unfair to do so. I think the parents of children attending those schools should not forfeit their subsidies simply because they choose to pay extra for their children to go to those schools. The results achieved by students from fee paying schools such as Bruce College show that they are outperforming other schools academically. The leaving cert results are certainly not rigged.

    I agree that there are old boys networks connected with some private schools, but I don’t think we should penalize all private school students because of this. The old boys network may still thrive based on sports clubs, etc, and not all families are part of the clique.

    • CorkRob

      If the subsidy to Private schools was scrapped and the schools all were converted to the Public model, the bill for the taxpayer would INCREASE by 21% per annum.

      Where’s the sense in that ?

      I’m unemployed now but scraped and saved our Children’s allowance and my redundancy to pay for Private education for my 3 kids.

      When I worked I paid tax – a LOT of Tax !

      Why should my kids now NOT deserve the same level of Government support as kids in Public Schools – the Government currently gives far more money to educate Public School kids (Per Head) than for Private school kids.

      That’s discrimination and illegal under our constitution and recent Children’s act (“All children to be treated equally by the state”).

      EX Minister Quinn failed to reply directly to 4 letters I sent him on the matter over the 12 months before he resigned.

      The begrudgers don’t want equality – they want to punish those who choose to spend their cash on Private education.

      • Gearoid O Dubhain

        Good for you ! You are entirely right in your remarks ! Comments about kids at fee paying schools being subsidised are utter hypocrisy !
        I ma curently in correspondence with Minister Burton and the Depart of Soc Welfare in regard to a system of aparthied being operated against a portion of the unemplyed – I have of course been treated with contempt by Burton and her officials but I refuse to give up. Not one single TD or Senator who calls themsles ‘Human Rights’ Promoters have spoken up about this . discrination ! Irland is truly the Land of Gombeens

    • DB4545

      Thanks for your polite response. I get the direct taxation numbers but when indirect taxation is factored in people on lower incomes pay a greater proportion of their overall income in taxation. I fully understand the sacrifices that people make to give their kids a good education. I also respect that it is their choice and their right to do this. However giving a 100 million subsidy to the wealthy and taking it from people with low incomes just can’t be justified. If people want their kids to attend private schools that’s fine just don’t expect taxpayers to fund it. The leaving cert is not rigged but when the education system is manipulated and distorted so that children from disadvantaged areas don’t even realise the possibilities of third level education it doesn’t have to be rigged.

      • HTH

        Indirect taxes do affect the proportion of income paid, but are they are enough to mean that lower incomes pay a higher proportions? Maybe I am missing something: VAT is the biggest indirect tax one at 23% and there are a lot of smaller individual charges like property tax, car tax, tv licence, driver licence fees, passport fees, atm levies, insurance levies, etc. Still, I don’t think these are enough to allow the low earner to overtake the high earner in terms of overall rate.

        For example lets compare the 100k earner to the 25k earner:

        Someone on 25k has 21k take home pay. If we assume that they spend 20k per year and indirect taxes makes up 6k of this (23% VAT + property tax, car tax, tv licence, driver licence fees, passport fees, atm levies, insurance levies, etc). This means they are paying roughly 10k tax altogether which is 40% of their income.

        If you add the 6k indirect taxes to the person on 100k it means they are paying 46% of their income overall. If they spend more than 20k a year, their percentage will increase. Mortgage and pension reliefs may bring it down by maybe 2%, but its still going to be about 44%. Rent/mortgage relief is also available to the 25k worker: a 160 rent tax credit would bring their overall rate down to 39.5%.

        I think indirect taxes would have to increase significantly to upset the balance. If the indirect taxes doubled to 12k a year (60% of 20k spending), then the 25k earner would be paying 60% overall and the 100k earner could be paying as low as 51%. But I don’t think direct taxes are at that level yet.

        • CorkRob

          Indirect tax application policy by the Government also favours the wealthier top earners and punishes the lower income tax payers.

          e.g. I own a ’99 reg car (15 years old – 213k miles) 2.0 diesel car and my wife drive a 2.0 litre petrol ’02 car (157k miles). We live out of town with 3 teenage kids – poor public transport network.

          We cannot afford to replace the cars and they’re worthless in sales value.
          Scrappage allowance only counts if you buy a NEW car – No money – no chance.
          Indirect Tax – Annual NCT €55 or so per car plus fixing the annual resultant “to Do” List – OK.

          Car Tax – €710 annually IF you pay it in one payment !!!

          So, as we can’t afford €1420 each January, we have to scrape it together each quarter.

          Now, because we can’t afford a post 2008 car with lower CO2 emissions and because we can’t pay the Motor Tax in one go, we are further penalised by the Government , who consider it just punishment to levy a further €90/year/per car on top = €200/qtr per car.

          If we were wealthier we could afford newer cars but we’re not – so WHY charge us MORE than wealthier motorists ???

          • HTH

            Hi CorkRob,

            its true that road tax can favour the wealthy to the tune of a couple of hundred quid a year. However, the few hundred quid is not enough to affect the overall balance, because the 100k worker is paying around 46k in taxes. Even if the car tax saving is 1000 euro they are still paying 45%.

            VRT and VAT on cars certainly do not favour the wealthy . If you buy a new car for 50k, about 25k goes to the government in taxes.

          • HTH

            Hi CorkRob,

            Thanks for pointing out the info on the car tax, I was estimating 400-500 euros, but it could easily be 800 or more. I had also forgotten about the NCT fee of 55. However, I had already used a very high estimate for VAT, so I think the total tax bill for someone on 25k is still around the 10k or 40% of income. The total tax for someone on 100k is about 45k, or higher if they spend more on cars and consumer items.

      • HTH

        “giving a 100 million subsidy to the wealthy and taking it from people with low incomes just can’t be justified.”

        Totally agree that it would be unfair, but I don’t think it is the case.

        We agree that wealthy pay a lot more tax in actual euros. So if the state is spending 2000 million on all secondary schools per year, then the wealthiest 20% are funding 1200 million of this 2bn. If they get 100 million of this 2bn back in subsidies to their kids private schools, it still means they are funding 1.1bn to the non-paying schools. The richest 20% are paying 60% of the overall subsidy but receiving 5%, while the poorest 80% are paying for 40% of the subsidy but receiving 95% of it.

        I know that not all of the 20% send their kids to private school, and vice-versa, but the people that do are likely to be closer to the top 20%, so they are more than likely paying far more than they receive.

        There is a definitely an impression in Ireland that high earners are getting off lightly, but the facts and figures that I have seen do not bear this out. I have seen a set of figures that show the net tax paid by ultra high earners, after all the reliefs, etc. They can sometimes get the net rate down to under 40%, which is unfair on the 100k worker, but its still a massive amount of euros that the state gets from a tiny number of individuals, and many of them could relocate quite easily.

        • Gearoid O Dubhain

          “giving a 100 million subsidy to the wealthy and taking it from people with low incomes just can’t be justified.”
          This is such an absurd and intellectually bankrupt idea to be repeating, that it makes me wonder if you even understand the concept of democracy ! lets be clear one of the institutions that is most implacably opposed to equality is /are the Labour linked trade unions. A pay rise at the lower end of the scale must according to Labour/Trade Union logic must ripple upwards to the very top because their entire structure and concept of bargaining depends upon it ! That so many of Labours politicians held on to permanent teaching positions ans=d accumulated teaching pensions in respect of work they werent doing as well as accumulating multiple pensions as TDS and Ministers just shows the hypocrisy of those who hold themselves out as being at the forefront of promoting human rights and values.
          Every parent who pays taxes is entitled to have the state pay the salaries of teachers ! Those salaries arent subsidising anybody – they are being paid to teachers – all of them members of unions- who are carrying out the function of teaching children. Do the teaching unions accept union fees from teachers in these achools ? If they do, then are those unions not being ‘subsidised’ by the taxpayer ? Are these teachers being ‘unfairly subsidised’ by the taxpayer ? Should they be banned from receiving state teaching pensions ? Or is it only the children who are the recipients of these teachers services who are to be targeted and demonised by Labour and its supporters ? Is itmorally acceptable to target, attack and demonise one group of children ? Because it is the children who are being attacked. People should at least have the courage of their convictions and say they do not want these children to have the same benefits as other children.

          • Gearoid O Dubhain

            And where are the Labour voices crying out to have the croeyistic medieval Aosdana payments of €17,180 tax free a year paid to year after year after year. many oif these have now recieved over€120,000 in tax free paymenst..and for what. Most citizens of this stae would be pushed to name even two or three of these people ?

          • DB4545

            In response to HTH. What about tax reliefs available to the wealthy such as investment in film projects which those with modest incomes can’t access even on a pro-rata basis? There has always been access to these type of reliefs for the wealthy and this helps to significantly reduce the tax paid by these individuals. In response to the gentleman above what about the moral bankruptcy of a State which denies fair access to education for a significant number of its Citizens? David is correct there is education apartheid for sections of our society and the effects are just as damaging as the system which was in place in the old South Africa.

  38. pauloriain

    A fantastic piece by David no doubt.

    This information when linked to a recent OECD report, which pointed out that Ireland spends the same per capita on health provision as other European countries. Bravo Ireland for keeping up with our neighbours, but the same report sound a note of frustration as to why we were spend as much, while at the same time our population is so much younger.

    Taking this latest report from the OECD and linking it to the statistics on health we can see where the money is going to keep the older generations healthy.

    When you also look at the situation in the context of the lack of work for the younger generations, many of whom have emigrated, which has distorted the umemployment figures. Then you look at the profit the older generations have enjoyed from property and the defined benefit pensions so many of them still have and understand they will be the last generation to have…. you see a pattern where the older generations have feather their own nest at the expense of the younger generations. This in contrast to the oft heard mantra of invest in our young they are the future of the country. Well what David has pointed out is the lie which the older generations have been peddling for decades.

    You could expand this whole case study to explain why Ireland has not experience population growth when our neighbours saw their populations explode, because the insiders, the have’s, the winners, take it all.

  39. gcy_1980

    The real education apartite in the third level system in this country is the way the policy is engineered to get as many students in and out third level with basic mainstream ideas especially in economics. I have mentioned Sen before in some of these articles but he would be one of the foremost economic thinkers on development, not just in poor countries, but the inequality that exists in first world countries. How many economists in the department of education and finance have a good knowledge of his development thinking.Very few. We saw it during the book. They just passively threw money at the issue and thought that would be the answer to everything.

  40. HTH

    Hi DB4545,

    The tax stats I gave are based on revenue actually collected, after all reliefs are allowed (even the silly ones!)

    So in spite of some very questionable reliefs, the top 20% of earners are still paying 60% of all tax.

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