Dáil Éireann - Volume 627 - 14 November, 2006

Written Answers. - Departmental Expenditure.

Dr. Cowley asked the Minister for Education and Science if her Department will increase the investment in second level education; if her attention has been drawn to the recent OECD report which shows that Ireland is almost at the bottom of the international league in terms of investment in second level education relative to the country’s economic wealth; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [37509/06]

  Ms Hanafin: The most recent OECD ‘Education At A Glance’ report provides figures for 2003/04 which fail to reflect the major increases in second level funding in recent years.

Spending by my Department on second level education increased by 17% between 2003 and 2005. In 2005, €2.7 billion was spent on second-level education — up from €2.3 billion in 2003 and €1.25 billion in 1997.

These increases have allowed for major progress to be made both in the staffing and in the day-to-day funding of our schools.

Since the financial year referred to in the OECD report — 2003 — second-level schools have benefited from substantial increases in funding. The standard capitation grant of €266 per pupil in 2003 now stands at €298 per pupil from 1 January last. In addition, the support services grant for secondary schools has been increased from €127 per pupil in 2003 to €159 per pupil in 2006. These grants are in addition to the per capita funding of up to €40,000 per school that is provided by my Department to secondary schools towards secretarial and caretaking services.

Significant improvements have also been made in the staffing of our second level schools in recent years. With the creation of over 2,000 additional posts and the retention of over 2,100 posts which would otherwise have been lost due [983] to the fall in enrolments, there is now one teacher for every 13 students at second level.

These significant increases in the funding and staffing of schools are a clear demonstration of my commitment to prioritise available resources to address the needs of schools.