Damien English, Minister for Skills, Research and Innovation and Meath West Fine Gael TD has welcomed the significant portion of the Government’s new €27bn capital programme for 2016 to 2021 that will be devoted to the education sector.
The Minister of State at the Department of Education and Skills stated that the next capital plan announced by the Government some €3.8bn in direct funding will be invested in educational projects. By comparison the initial allocation for education under the previous five year capital programme was €2.2bn. An additional €200m in Public Private Partnership funding over the life time of the capital programme will result in more than €4bn in public investment in education from 2016 to 2021.
“This is a very significant investment of money for education. It represents a very clear and strategic choice by this Government and shows the importance of education and schools to the life of our country, especially in rural areas, as well as education’s importance to our overall economy” Minister English said.
Minister English noted this is capital funding, money for major new infrastructural projects, and is different from day to day spending in education, which will also grow in line with the expanding economy. He stated that an additional 60,000 school places at primary and post-primary level have already been provided by this Government since 2011 through new build and extensions projects, including many in Co. Meath. He highlighted schools such as Beaufort College, Baconstown N.S., Killyon NS, Bohermeen NS & Longwood that has seen great developments recently in their educational facilities.
“The quality of these new purpose built school building projects in Meath is top class and they provide our youngest generation with a fantastic learning environment. But there remains more we can and must do. Projects under the existing schools capital plan such as St. Paul’s in Navan, Colaiste na Mí (Phase 2) in Johnstown and St. Mary’s Special School have already funding ear marked for their building needs to be completed” stated Minister English.
In the coming weeks a new Schools Capital Plan by the Department of Education and Skills will be announced. This plan will outline the details of the major schools projects that will create 62,000 additional school places at primary and post-primary level to address future demographic demands. Funding will also be available for the refurbishment of schools in older buildings that require improvement. The plan also provides for important investment of €210m in IT and wireless broadband capacity in schools.
“In Meath West I am aware of the demands of schools such as St. Ultan’s Special School in Navan, the Educate Together School in Trim, Ard Rí Community National School in Navan, Lismullin NS and the need for a new second level school for Enfield in South Meath amongst others” Minister English stated.
“This Government is increasing both current and capital investment in education in a safe and sustainable way in line with our growing economy, and so as to future proof our economy and the skill set of our younger generation. This will benefit all our citizens, with a very positive impact on our economic, social and cultural life, especially in rural towns and parishes in Meath West” concluded Minister English.