Architects have described the new figures that show the Department of Education has yet to spend almost half of its Budget for this year which was earmarked for capital projects as “˜shocking’ and have called on the Government to use the funds of €331m to build schools and create employment in the building sector. Royal Institute of Architects in Ireland (RIAI), Director, John Graby stated, “The fact that the Department of Education has yet to spend almost half of the 2010 budget allocated to it to build new schools and classrooms is shocking. We have children attending school in prefabs and there is a high rate of unemployment in the building sector.”
“This is an opportunity for the Government to take advantage of cheaper labour and materials in the sector and finance projects that are not only good value for money but are an investment in children’s education which will greatly improve their learning environment.
Mr Graby continued “The Budget for 2010 maintained strong levels of capital funding for education because of the need for schools and classrooms. The current birth boom will only add further pressure to the system in the coming years.”
The Department has attributed the under-spend to the dramatically reduced building costs and we believe that this is an opportunity for the Department to target the elimination of prefabs in the school system. A recent ERSI Study commissioned by the Department of Education and Skills “Designing Primary Schools for the Future” found that the quality of the buildings had a significant impact on teaching and learning. It also found that brighter and more comfortable schools enhanced pupil engagement.”
Mr Graby claimed that the study found that classrooms in newer schools facilitated best practice in teaching by allowing teachers implement new methodologies in teaching IT and physical education stating “this cannot be facilitated by continuing to use prefabs.”
The RIAI would encourage the Government to take advantage of the economy where both labour and materials are competitively priced.
Mr Graby concluded “The investment of this money will have an immediate effect in terms of job creation and the long term benefits of appropriate schools and classrooms for children.”