Families hit as school age set to rise to 5
FAMILIES are being warned to brace themselves for financial onslaught after details of dire education cuts were revealed.
Chaos is looming for parents of young children after it was revealed that the Government is considering raising the school-going age to five.
The move would lump an extra 12 months of childcare fees on thousands of cash-strapped families.
Parents currently can decide whether to send their children to school aged four, or wait until they are a year older.
However, it has now emerged that the Department of Education and Skills has devised proposals which will force parents to wait until their child reaches their fifth birthday before sending them to school.
The measure has the potential of generating savings of €3.5m in the first year, with this figure rising in future years.
The move would result in the number of children beginning school being slashed from 60,000 to 20,000.
And the measure is just one of a range of cost proposals that will lump major financial strain on struggling households.
Opposition parties and the Union of Students of Ireland (USI) are today calling on Education Minister Ruairi Quinn to come clean on the issue of third-level fees.
It has emerged that education officials are considering introducing a €3,000 flat rate college fee to replace the current registration fee system which charges students €2,000.
And the Government is also considering slashing the availability of grants to lower-income families as well as the abolishing of Transition Year.
Unions and Opposition TDs today labelled the proposals as an attack on children.
A spokesperson for the Department of Education refused to be drawn on any particular measure but admitted a comprehensive review of expenditure was "ongoing".
SINEAD RYAN page 14