3rd April 2018
INTO General Secretary, Sheila Nunan told the Minister for Education Richard Bruton that in February almost 500 children became homeless, the biggest increase since records began.
Speaking at the INTO’s annual Congress in Killarney she said, “more than an entire primary school class, thirty five pupils, became homeless every two days in February.”
The particular impact of homeless on children has been a concern of teachers as the lack of a proper and stable home impacts on access to education and can undermine children’s entire education. Approximately 3,755 children are homeless across Ireland.
Ms Nunan strongly criticised the lack of response from the Department of Education and Skills.
“Schoolchildren who are homeless are seriously struggling in school while their teachers struggle to help them to cope,” said Ms Nunan. “Is it too much to ask for support for these children?” she asked the Minister.
She called for additional resources to support homeless children in school. She also demanded advice and guidance.
“Teachers,” she said, “are waiting for the Department to recognise that homelessness is an educational crisis too.”
On the broader front Ms Nunan called for a major public housing building programme, led by local authorities, delivering a minimum of 10,000 new homes annually over the next five years.
She said there should be some housing prioritisation for essential service workers particularly in the major urban centres. “If you want teachers in Dublin in the near future,” she told the Minister, “then affordable housing has to be a priority.” She called for greater levels of protection for tenants and an end to evictions to nowhere. Ms Nunan said the housing crisis was impacting on the living standards of working people and putting untold pressure on incomes, with 27% of disposable income going on rent in some areas. “Many teachers are acutely affected by this crisis, especially those on lower salaries attempting to get on the property ladder,” she said.