Chaotic schools building programme leaves children in substandard conditions

The “chaotic nature” of the Government’s School Building Programme is forcing Galway children to suffer substandard conditions which are not fit for educational purposes, that is according to Fine Gael Galway senator Fidelma Healy Eames.

The Seanad spokesperson on Education and Science this week spoke out against “the mess” the Department of Education is making of the School Building Programme. She said that it was “baffling beyond belief” why millions of euro are been spent on renting prefabs when the school building budget has not been completely exhausted.

“Fine Gael recently revealed how in excess of €100 million was spent over the past three years renting prefabs, with €50 million of that amount spent in 2009 alone. All the while the Department refused to spend a considerable portion of the 2009 Budget when thousands of our children are being taught in wholly unsatisfactory conditions. This highlights the absolute chaotic nature of the School Building Programme and Fianna Fáil’s inability to effectively manage the situation.

Focusing on Galway Senator Healy Eames went on to say that Colaiste na Corribe in Galway city, as just one example, is housed in prefabricated buildings in five locations and is anxiously awaiting news on whether or not it will be included in the next PPP bundle.

The senator also described how she had been contacted by a teacher who had moved from the UK to teach in a local school here. She said that the teacher was “appalled at the conditions her pupils are being forced to endure”.

“She [the teacher] told of prefabricated classrooms that are as much as 500 metres apart with the children having to wait outside in the cold until the teacher arrives and allows them into the classroom. She talks of having to take maths classes in the art room and the inordinate amount of time wasted rearranging seating and moving art projects so that classes can commence. Despite this she says the pupils are highly motivated, and unaware of their desperate conditions as it’s quite simply all they have ever known.

“Fianna Fáil’s performance to date shows very poor management of its school capital budget with fewer than 10 per cent of school building projects announced in 2009 having actually been built. At a time when construction prices are at their lowest for years, the Government should be fast-tracking school building, as a means of providing for our children’s futures and creating critically-needed jobs,” said Senator Healy Eames.

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