Thursday, 21 February 2008
Schools Building Projects
Pat Gallagher (Donegal South West, Fianna Fail)
I thank the Senator for raising the matter as it affords me the opportunity to respond on behalf of the Minister for Education and Science, Deputy Mary Hanafin. I want to outline to the House the Government's strategy for capital investment in education projects and the position regarding the provision of a new school at Rahan County Cork.
Modernising facilities in our 3,200 primary schools and 750 post-primary schools is not an easy task given the legacy of decades of under-investment in this area as well as the need to respond to emerging needs in areas of rapid population growth. The Government has shown a focused determination to improve the condition of our school buildings and to ensure the appropriate facilities are in place to enable the implementation of a broad and balanced curriculum.
Under the lifetime of the national development plan almost €4.5 billion will be invested in schools. Approximately €600 million will be spent this year on school buildings. This is an unprecedented level of capital investment which reflects the commitment of the Government to continue its programme of sustained investment in primary and post-primary schools. This investment will facilitate the provision of new schools and extensions in developing areas and the improvement of existing schools through the provision of replacement schools, extensions or large-scale refurbishment projects over the next few years.
Rahan national school is a co-educational primary school with an enrolment of 91 pupils at September 2007. The school staff consists of a principal, three mainstream class teachers and one permanent learning support and resource teacher.
The school has submitted an application to the Department for capital funding towards the provision of a new school and the long-term staffing figure on which accommodation needs will be based has been determined and notified to the school authority. It has been agreed that appropriate accommodation should be provided to cater for a long-term projected staff of a principal and eight mainstream assistants, plus appropriate ancillary accommodation.
Applications for large-scale capital funding are assessed and banded in accordance with published prioritisation criteria. These criteria were agreed following consultation with the education partners and the progression of individual projects is considered in the context of the multi-annual school building and modernisation programme.
Following a recent meeting with officials from the Department, the school authorities of Rahan have applied for the replacement of the existing temporary accommodation. This application has been approved by the Department.
I thank the Senator for raising this matter and allowing me to respond on behalf of the Minister. He raised some issues relating to the school and I will bring them to the attention of the Minister in the coming days with a view to progressing the project.