Tuesday, 24 April 2012
Dáil Éireann Debate
259. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the extent to which he expects to adequately meet the requirements of the school building programme in the current and future years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19917/12]
Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): I wish to advise the Deputy that the Five Year Plan prioritises new school building projects, including the new primary and post primary schools that I announced in June 2011, as well as major extensions in areas where a demographic need has been established.
The Deputy will be aware of the demographic challenges that we are facing. Total enrolment in both primary and post-primary schools is expected to grow by almost 70,000 between now and 2018 and will continue to grow up to at least 2024 at post-primary level. The Deputy will appreciate that the primary aim at the core of the Five Year Plan, that I announced on 12 March last, is to ensure that every child will have access to a physical school place and that our school system is in a position to cope with increasing pupil numbers.
The progression of school projects to construction, as set out in the Five Year Plan, to meet future demographic demand is the main focus of the Plan. In view of the funding constraints, it is not possible to progress all projects within my Department’s building programme concurrently. Accordingly, it was necessary to prioritise school building projects already progressing within architectural planning in the context of the Plan, taking into account factors such as the funding available and the progression of other major projects required to meet demographic needs.
The Deputy will appreciate that the announcement of the Five Year Plan represents a major change in how the school building programme is publicised. The Plan, for the first time, gives details of the schools that will progress to construction over the duration of the Plan. Those schools included in the Plan, many of which were included in previous announcements, now know when their project is likely to commence construction and they can make plans based on these timelines.
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