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Schools suffering after suspension of Summer Works Scheme - Doherty

21 January, 2008

Sinn Féin Education Spokesperson Senator Pearse Doherty has called for the re-establishment of the Summer Works Scheme after it was suspended in budget 2007. Speaking today Senator Doherty claimed children throughout the state are being taught in sub standard buildings.

Speaking today Senator Doherty said, "In budget 2007 the Summer Works Programme, which provided schools with grants for vital building work to be carried out, was suspended. This is despite the fact that many children throughout the state are being taught in sub standard buildings. This has been highlighted in the past week with the closure of two schools, one here in my own county, due to rodent infestation.

"Under the Summer Works Scheme schools that wished to apply for grants had to hire a consultant to organise the application. The cost of hiring the consultant was covered in the grant. However, schools who have applied to receive a grant this year, without the knowledge that the scheme was to be suspended, now have to cover the costs of hiring the consultant to organise their application in the first place. So not only will schools now not be able to apply for grants for crucial buuilding work but some have actually found themselves in debt due to applying for a grant in the first place.

"This situation is unacceptable. The Minister may claim that there is no need for the programme anymore however it is quite clear that if schools are still applying for grants then the scheme is required. It is quite clear that the suspension of this project is part of cut backs in the education budget and the Minister should be honest about that.

"I am calling on the Minister ensure that no school has to pay consultant's fees for applications for grants which they will not receive. However, ultimately it is imperative that the Minister re-introduces the Summer Works Scheme to ensure that schools can avail of vital building works.

"The suspension of this scheme has added further financial burdens on many schools which are already under sever strain. For many schools it is simply incomprehensible that they could meet these costs themselves and therefore the decision to end this scheme has ensured that our children will continue to be taught in sub standard schools for yet another year at least." ENDS

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