A €5m annual saving and over 800 jobs have been promised in a Department of Education plan to build classrooms in place of hundreds of rented school prefabs.
Almost €100m was spent by the department renting prefabs and other temporary school accommodation in the past three years.
Ruairi Quinn, the education minister, says the €35m investment will replace prefabs in which about 6,000 children at the 200 primary and second-level schools are being taught.
They include 29 Cork schools, 23 in Dublin, 11 in Wexford, and 10 each in counties Louth, Mayo, and Meath.
Mr Quinn said the Government is determined to tackle the issue, having been left with a legacy of rented prefabs, with only 35 new rental contracts entered into last year.
“It’s hard to believe that at the height of the boom, the previous government had a policy of renting prefabs in schools; 715 new rental contracts were agreed for primary schools in 2007 alone,” he said.
The number of schools availing of rental grant support from the Department of Education has fallen from over 900 in 2008 to 586 at present.
There are 1,531 prefabs being rented, down from almost 1,900 three years ago, but each one may include more than a single classroom.
The average rent on a standard-size prefab classroom has fallen slightly since 2008 to just under €15,000, but the department bought out rental contracts on 212 prefabs in the past two years.
The Irish National Teachers’ Organisation said the investment was welcome, but that it did not go far enough as there are over 2,000 prefabs in schools around the country.
* 2009: €39m
* 2010: €29.3m
* 2011: €28.9m
* 2012: €29.3m (provisional)
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