Junior Achievement Ireland has marked its 20th anniversary celebrations by presenting the ‘Children’s Budget 2017’ to Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Katherine Zappone TD at Government Buildings.
Thirty six boys and girls aged 9-10, from St James’s Primary School, Basin Lane, Dublin 8 participated in a workshop where they would balance the ‘Children’s Budget’, using skills previously acquired from programmes Junior Achievement volunteers, from a wide range of supporting organisations, teach in their classrooms.
The goal at the end of the workshop was to fairly distribute the €6 billion budget, €1 billion for each department, wisely amongst the six departments; Department of Children, Department of Transport, Department of Agriculture, Department of Health, Department of Education and Department of Local Government.
Student Moira Salang, aged 10 years, worked on the project as the ‘Minister for Children and Youth Affairs’ and explained how her department decided how to allocate the funding.
“We were given €1bn to spend and our Junior Achievement Ireland volunteers helped us understand the different areas in which we could choose to spend our money. We learned about all the different things to do with Children which the Minister has to look after. It was quite hard to decide how to spend the money in the best way. In the end, we chose things that we think would make a big difference and would help kids. One of our best ideas was to have a breakfast club where children can have breakfast in school for free. I hope Minister Zappone likes our ideas and uses one or two in the big budget in October.”
Key recommendations provided by the children in the document to Minister Zappone included:
- €25m to be spent on promoting a ‘Drive Safely’ Campaign
- €50m to be spent on an ‘Irish Language Day’ to promote the use of the Irish language nationwide
- €100m to be spent on Youth Projects, to include after-school homework clubs
- €125m to be spent on wind turbines
- €100m to be spent on creating ‘home-like’ nursing homes for the elderly
- €50m to be spent on mental health projects
- €200m to be spent on getting one new airline to come to Ireland every year
- €25m to be spent on experts visiting schools to teach children about anti-bullying campaigns
- €25m to be spent on sports halls and dance studios to promote community-based social inclusion
- €25m to be spent on introducing new sports into the national curriculum such as the wide variety in the recent Olympic Games
- €300m to be spent on new schools, each to have large playgrounds to facilitate children who live in homes with no gardens or areas with no green spaces
- €25m to be spent on breakfast clubs whereby all children can get a free breakfast at school
- €450m to be spent on free healthcare for children under 18
Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Katherine Zappone TD commented: “It is important that we bring a ‘child focus’ to every area of Government policy, including preparations for Budget 2017. These children are our future and it is important that we nurture their young minds and remind them that there is no limit on what they can accomplish or should aspire to. This exercise has clearly utilised well the skills learned within the Junior Achievement programmes and helped the children apply the skills to a real-life scenario. I thank them very much for their bright ideas and out of the box thinking and will certainly be taking their contribution into consideration. I want to congratulate the children, their teachers and Junior Achievement Ireland for this fantastic work.”
Principal of St James’s Primary School, Noreen Flynn, says: “Junior Achievement Ireland is an extremely valuable organisation that introduces students to the wider world by utilising role models from the world of work. The programmes that run in our school every year show the students the vast array of opportunities there are for them to use their talents, imagination and creativity when they grow up. It is wonderful for our pupils to be able to interact with role models from the business world who can inspire them to achieve more in their future lives.”