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Minister unaware how many schools use prefabs as classrooms - Doherty

12 February, 2008

Sinn Féin Education Spokesperson Senator Pearse Doherty has called for the introduction of a programme to end the use of pre-fabricated buildings for school classrooms. Senator Doherty said today that information in relation the number and location of schools currently using prefabs as classrooms is not available from the Minister or her Department. This is despite €35.5million a year being spent on the rental of the structures.

The Donegal Senator said, "In a reply to a parliamentary question the Minister for Education Mary Hanafin said that information in relation to the numbers of schools currently using prefabs as classrooms and their location is unavailable. I find this quite staggering given that her department spends €35.5million a year renting these supposedly temporary structures.

"How can the Minister roll out a much needed school building programme if she doesn't even know where temporary structures are being used as classrooms?

"It seems that the Department of Education now sees the use of prefabs for schools as acceptable in the long term. It has got to the stage where the Department doesn't even know where the prefabs are or how many there are. It is not unusual for children to spend most or all of their school days in prefabs that were originally meant to be temporary structures.

"What we need to see is the introduction of a programme to end the use of prefabs as school classrooms. Obviously this would entail a robust school build programme.

"The bottom line is that our children deserve better than to be taught in damp, cold and sometimes rodent invested prefabs." ENDS

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