Dáil Éireann - Volume 535 - 02 May, 2001

Written Answers - School Accommodation.

[709] 65. Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Science if he is satisfied that the quality and standard of classroom accommodation in all schools is in keeping with modern best practice and international standards; if he plans any improvements in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12369/01]

Minister for Education and Science (Dr. Woods): A key objective of my Department is to provide school accommodation that is of the highest standard so as to ensure suitable and safe teaching and learning environments.

To ensure that the Department's extensive construction programme is carried out in line with best international practice, Ireland is an active member of the programme on educational building within the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. The PEB promotes the international exchange of ideas, information, research and experience in all aspects of educational building. The overriding concerns of the programme are to ensure that the maximum educational benefit is obtained from past and future investment in educational buildings and equipment and that building stock is planned and managed in the most efficient way. As many as 18 OECD member countries and nine associate members participate in the PEB which has a mandate to advise and report on educational facilities for students of all ages.

The PEB is currently producing its second compendium of exemplary educational facilities. The second edition is intended to showcase a selection of quality facilities which exemplify the aims of PEB. From a total of 56 projects, Ireland has four projects included in the compendium. This is a very significant achievement reflecting as it does the extent to which Irish educational facilities match international standards.

This Government is attending to historic deficits in educational infrastructure as evidenced by the substantial increases in capital expenditure at all sectors since taking office. In the current year, some £222 million is available for expending on schools infrastructure. This is 3.5 times more than the 1996 allocation and indicates our firm commitment to providing quality school accommodation countrywide.