Two kindergarten classes at Corpus Christi Primary School are merging for lack of funds and the Moyross parish priest has concerns regarding the educational disadvantage imposed on children who are placed in classes of 32 or more.
The new student-teacher ratio is 50% over the official ratio for disadvantaged schools, he said, and in addition, many of the students arrive for their first ever day in school already behind their peers in other schools.
“I am now appealing to churches and parishes around the country who have gold vessels and religious goods stored away and unused, to consider selling these goods for a greater good.” Fr. O’Riordan is based in one of the most deprived parts of Limerick City.
“We cannot easily stand over such a detrimental move knowing how negatively it will impact on these children’s futures and education.”
Though Fr. O’Riordan still plans to campaign for the Department of Education to fulfill its obligations, he is appealing to churches for a more immediate solution: “We are asking that churches dispose of luxury goods to help us pay for an essential good,” he said.
“I know the Church family up and down this country has many gold objects gathering dust, so I hope that those with charge of these goods might listen to this appeal and help us meet the needs of these disadvantaged children, and give them an opportunity for their God-given gifts to flourish.
“I know many families have been forced to sell gold and jewelry in recent years just to make ends meet,” he added, hoping that the “Church family” would do the same.
The annual income of a primary-school teacher in Ireland is around $37,500, and Fr. O’Riordan is hopeful that the appeal can raise $25,000 for the post.
He was involved in the decision to privately employ a teacher for as long as is possible to raise the funds; the school has so far secured one month’s salary.