Election 2020 posters in Portlaoise. Picture: Leinster Express
Laois and Offaly teachers and parents have a chance to quiz election candidates on their education policies face to face.
The INTO (Irish National Teachers Organisation) has arranged a public meeting this Wednesday January 29 in Portlaoise.
All of the Laois Offaly election candidates are invited to the pre election public meeting.
Sharon Roche is Branch Organiser with the Portlaoise Branch INTO and also teaches locally.
"Charlie Flanagan (Fine Gael) Brian Stanley (Sinn Féin) Seán Fleming (Fianna Fáil) and Stephen Tynan (People Before Profit) have confirmed their attendance but we hope that many of the other candidates will also be in attendance," she said.
"The purpose of the meeting is to allow the candidates to put forward their policies on education and to also be questioned on these policies.They will speak on important topics such as school funding, pupil teacher ratios, DEIS (educational disadvantage) and pay equality.
"This meeting is open to all, teachers, non teachers, parents, grandparents or anyone who would like an opportunity to engage with the candidates before polling day. We strongly encourage parents to attend to send a message to our government that education is a top priority and continuing to make cuts to education will not be tolerated. Investment was promised by our outgoing government but they have failed to deliver on their promises in the past four years," Ms Roche says.
She urges the public to have their say.
"The General Election results will have a huge impact on the future of our children's education particularly if the issue of class size is not addressed. We have a projected drop in pupil enrolment in County Laois over the next 5 years which will result in the loss of almost 150 teaching posts in County Laois. This will have a devastating impact on schools, particularly rural schools and will lead to overcrowded classrooms.
"We want to make parents aware of the meeting and to come along to put the pressure on for investment in education," the INTO rep said.
The meeting is in the Midlands Park Hotel in Portlaoise at 7.30pm.