Dáil Éireann - Volume 614 - 15 February, 2006
Written Answers. - School Accommodation.
Mr. Durkan Mr. Durkan
294. Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Science the timescale within which she expects to bring all schools here, at primary and secondary level, up to a reasonable standard in terms of building accommodation or other facilities; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6003/06]
Ms Hanafin Ms Hanafin
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 or extensions. Funding for school building and renovation projects has increased fivefold since 1997. In 2006, €491 million will be spent on school building projects, compared to just €92 million in 1997. This, in its own right, is an increase of more than 9% in real terms on the 2005 allocation.
As the Deputy will be aware, at the end of last year I outlined my spending plans for primary and post-primary schools for 2006. With €491 million to be spent on schools buildings, more than 1,300 projects will be active in schools all over the country. This significant investment will allow me to continue to progress our major programme of school building and modernisation which includes improving equipment needed for new technologies and ICT. I have already started to outline individual schools around the country which will benefit under the various parts of the programme throughout the year, with the  announcement of 62 schools which have been given approval to start architectural planning and 740 schools which are being given funding under the summer works scheme to carry out essential small scale projects. I will announce details of the other aspects of the programme as we move through the year.
The principal features of the 2006 building and modernisation programme are: €277 million targeted at primary schools and €204 million in the post-primary sector; almost 200 major school building projects at construction during 2006; 105 primary school projects and 62 post-primary projects advancing in architectural design; further use of fast-track design solutions for primary schools.
It is expected that up to 12 primary schools will be built using a standardised design model or a design and build process. The first school built under this model opened in Balgaddy, Lucan in September 2005, having taken just ten months to build, and up to 200 primary schools will receive approval for devolved funding under the small school and permanent accommodation initiatives during the coming year. This is in addition to the 153 schools which will have projects at construction during 2006 under these initiatives. Small school and permanent accommodation initiatives, which were piloted over the last two years, will become a permanent feature of the building programme. This will enable schools to get works done faster by allowing them to run the projects themselves.
I assure the Deputy that the Government is fully committed to continuing the work it has started and consolidating the substantial progress already made to ensure the needs of schools throughout the country are met over time.
Dáil Éireann 614 Written Answers. School Accommodation.