Belfast Telegraph

Editor's Viewpoint: Cuts to education risk going too far

The latest revelation in today's Belfast Telegraph about the possible loss of up to 2,000 jobs in Northern Ireland's education system gives much cause for concern.

Many warnings have been given about the severity of the impending Government cutbacks on spending, but the education proposals, if they are implemented in full, will deal a serious body blow to one of the major sectors of our community.

Cuts of this nature would mean significant redundancies among teachers, and this would prove to be a retrograde step. The quality of education overall in this province is excellent but, if educational funding is to be cut so severely, it is inevitable that standards will drop.

High educational standards are important, not only for the young people involved, but also as an asset for Northern Ireland in its bid to attract inward investment.

In recent years our outstanding educational achievements have been a major factor in attracting new jobs.

This year's A-level and other results have again been extremely good, and our young people need the highest grades possible if they are to compete for scarce university places, and also to set their feet on the challenging career ladder in a period when jobs are short.

Under the present Education Minister, Caitriona Ruane, vital parts of this important sector are in a mess anyway. However, if we are to avoid further misery it is imperative that cuts to this front-line service are commensurate with protecting its key position in our society.

Finance Minister Sammy Wilson has again urged his political colleagues to realise that the pain of the cuts in general must be faced collectively, but education is one of those front-line services where there is a real danger of a cut too far.

This must not be allowed to happen.

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