More prefabs to be removed from schools
46 schools will benefit with €15 million of grant aid available
The Department of Education is to write to 46 schools to offer combined grant aid of €15 million to remove 115 prefabricated buildings. Photograph: The Irish Times
More prefabricated school structures are to be removed as part of the latest round of funding aimed at getting rid of temporary classrooms. The Department of Education will write in the coming days to 46 schools offering combined grant aid of €15 million to clear out 115 prefabricated buildings.
The funding is part of a programme that got under way last year. So far €23.6 million has been spent of a total budget of €42 million, the Department said.
Many schools resorted to temporary accommodation as a stop-gap measure when funds for permanent structures dried up.
The years have rolled by, however, and the prefabs at many schools have degraded to the point that they were no longer fit for use.
“Replacing prefabs offers better accommodation for students and savings for schools and the exchequer,” Minister for Education and Skills Ruairí Quinn said when the funding was announced.
The department estimates that related building activity will support 300 direct and 60 indirect jobs.
It also says that, when the replacement programme is completed, the exchequer will save about €5 million a year in prefab rentals.
Its total annual spend on prefab and other forms of temporary accommodation ran to €24.7 million in 2012. This figure is in decline with €29.3 million spent on temporary facilities in 2010.
The wider Government plan is to spend almost €500 million improving Ireland’s primary and secondary education infrastructure up to 2014.
The teaching unions have welcomed such investment but argue the funding is slow to arrive and insufficient to meet the pressing needs of some schools.
This is particularly true in some urban areas where rapidly rising immigrant populations mean existing facilities are insufficient to meet demand.
This can be seen in the numbers sitting the Junior Cert this year where after years of decline the figures are starting to rebound.
Last week the Government announced an additional €150 million would be spent on infrastructure improvements across a range of sectors, with €50 million of this allocated to school building projects.