Charity says €103m would generate free primary education for all children

More than 11,500 children were helped by Barnardos in 2015

Barnardos, free primary education, children, poverty, services, low incomes, schools, June Tinsley

The Junior Infants classroom in St Catherine National School a day ahead of the first day back to school | Image: Rollingnews.ie

The charity Barnardos says paying parents more money could give their children better literacy skills.

The statistics for last year show that children's maths and reading skills increased by 4%, for every 1% more their parents earned.

More than 11,500 children were helped by the charity in 2015.

It says family discord, parental addiction and bereavement were among the reasons families sought their help.

And Barnardos is urging political parties to make child welfare an election issue.

Head of advocacy June Tinsley says government investment could make a huge difference.

"The reality is while we do have a supposedly free education system, for parents they have to pay for school books, voluntary contributions, classroom resources - all those things which impact on a child's participation in education" she told Newstalk Breakfast.

"And that's what the barrier is".

"As part of our 'Rise Up' campaign, we've done costings which shows that the government - if they invested €103m - they would generate free primary education for all children" she added.