State spending on Irish students fell during the recession and is now lower than most countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), a new report has found.
Compared with other countries, Ireland invests less in early childhood education. Teachers eventually earn more but work longer hours, the report said.
Education at a Glance 2016, published yesterday, examines education systems throughout the world. It found in Ireland in 2013 “expenditure per student in primary, secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary education systems has fallen by 7 per cent compared with 2008 levels, while on average across the OECD expenditure per student had increased by 8 per cent over the same period”.
It said pay for teachers starting out is lower than the OECD average, although it rises “significantly” above it once teachers have 15 years of experience.
Teaching hours in Ireland are much longer – 915 per year at primary level compared to the average of 776 across the OECD, and 735 hours at upper secondary level compared to 644. “The findings on salary within the report are potentially misleading as they are based upon those teachers fortunate enough to have full-hour contracts,” the Teachers Union of Ireland said. “Up to half of second level teachers under 35 work less than full hours.”
General secretary of the Association of Secondary Teachers of Ireland Kieran Christie said the Irish system was threatened by underfunding.
“Now we are being told that the financial emergency is over, it is essential the worst of the austerity measures imposed on schools are reversed.”