Dáil Éireann - Volume 550 - 20 March, 2002

Written Answers. - Pre-School Services.

  98. Mr. Spring asked the Minister for Education and Science the number of pre-school places funded by his Department in each of the past five years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9186/02]

  Minister for Education and Science (Dr. Woods): My Department's involvement in the provision of pre-school services currently involves support for the early start pre-school pilot programme, the Rutland Street pre-school project, pre-schools for Traveller children and recent pre-school provision for children with autism. The information requested by the Deputy in relation to these programmes is given on the attached table.

  The provision of additional pre-school places for 2002 and future years will be considered by my Department in the context of the implementation of the White Paper on early childhood education, Ready to Learn, which sets out a blueprint for the development of the sector, with the aim of building on existing provision and assisting providers to raise quality of provision. In this regard, I recently appointed St. Patrick's College, Drumcondra, and the Dublin Institute of Technology to jointly undertake and manage a project to develop and support the provision of quality early childhood education in pursuance of these objectives. The project will run for up to three years and a new centre for early childhood development and education has been established for this purpose.

  The centre, which is jointly managed by the two institutions, will be staffed by a full-time director and project team with relevant professional expertise in the area of early childhood education. Funding for the project will be met from the €93.96 million allocation provided by the Government under the national development plan for the implementation of the White Paper.

Number Of Pre-School Places Funded By The Department Of Education and Science 1997-2001

Year

Number Of Pre-School Places

1997

2,435

1998

2,414

1999

2,460

2000

2,418

2001

2,335