Tuesday, 8 November 2005
Dáil Eireann Debate
160. Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Science the degree to which she proposes to address the issue of overcrowded classrooms at primary and second level schools throughout the country with particular reference to those schools most seriously overcrowded or deficient in terms of structures or facilities; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32789/05]
Minister for Education and Science (Ms Hanafin): The Government has invested in the largest school building programme in the history of the State. Between 1998 and the end of 2004, almost €2 billion was invested in school buildings and in the region of 7,500 large and small projects were completed in schools, including 130 brand new schools and 510 large-scale refurbishments-extensions. Funding for school building and renovation projects has increased five-fold since 1997. In 2005, €493 million will be spent on school building projects, compared to just €92 million in 1997.
The list of projects approved to date includes: large-scale projects to tender and construction over the next 12 to 15 months — 122, 89 primary and 33 post-primary; small schools initiative — 97, all primary; permanent accommodation initiative — 75, 70 primary and five post-primary; prefabs — 140, 137 primary and three post-primary; authorised to enter design phase — 43, 32 primary and 11 post-primary; summer works — 741, 452 primary and 289 post-primary; progress through architectural planning — 124, 73 primary and 51 post-primary; and PPPs — 27, 23 post-primary and four primary in 22 locations.
The total number of schools benefiting from this year’s announcements is 1,369. The total allocation for my primary and post primary capital budget this year is an unprecedented €493 million, €270 million for primary and €223 million for post-primary.
This level of investment will need to be maintained if the goal of eliminating sub-standard accommodation is to be achieved. The Government remains committed to continuing the work that it has started and to consolidating the substantial progress that has already been made to ensure that the needs of schools throughout the country are met over time.
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