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O'Keeffe doesn't know how many schools using prefabs!

5 March, 2009 - by Pearse Doherty TD

Speaking today in the Seanad Sinn Féin Education Spokesperson Senator Pearse Doherty relayed his outrage that the Minister for Education does not know how many schools across the state are using prefabs.

Just this week the Department of Education confirmed to Senator Doherty’s office that it does not have a complete list of all primary and secondary schools using prefab buildings; it just has data collected from a sample survey of 900 schools. Shockingly there are over 2,605 prefab units being used in the 900 schools surveyed. 

Speaking from Leinster House the Donegal Senator said:

“It is outrageous that the Minister for Education does not know how many of our schools are using prefabricated units. Educating our children in prefabs is a problem. But how can this problem be solved if the Minister himself does not know the full extent of it?

“What we do know from the Department’s survey is that there are over 2,605 prefab units in the 900 schools surveyed. Loretto primary school in Gorey has 20 prefab units, 19 of which are rented. Lurghybrack School in Donegal has 13 prefabs; ten of these are also rented. And Holy Cross NS Tramore has 18 prefabs, 17 of which are rented. What is also astonishing is the number of prefabs being used that date as far back as 1998. So despite the unprecedented wealth of the Celtic tiger years Fianna Fáil failed to invest this wealth back into our education system.

“Over the last three years €113 million has been spent on prefabs with the Minister projecting a further spend of €48 million this year. The reality is that thousands of children across the country will have spent their entire education in substandard education. Their experience could and should have been very different.

“How exactly does Fianna Fáil intend to build a knowledge economy if it sees no benefit in investing in the most fundamental tools of early education such as school buildings and teacher pupil ratios? As it stand 254 teaching posts will be lost as a result of the government’s decision to increase class sizes and up to 1,000 positions in primary schools will be lost as a result of the recent cutbacks. The fact is there are some public services that should be no go areas when it comes to cut-backs. Education is one such area.

“In addition the Minister also confirmed in his response to another Sinn Féin Parliamentary Question that all maintenance and upkeep of prefabs must be funded from the school’s already deeply inadequate capitation grant.

“Sinn Fein believes education is a priority. In government we would frontload infrastructure projects such as a school building programme using monies from the National Pension Reserve Fund (NPRF). Legislation is going through the Dáil and Seanad this week to pump €7 billion of the Pension Reserve Fund monies into flailing banks. In government Sinn Féin would use this money to properly invest in Ireland’s future.” ENDS

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