Independent TD Mattie McGrath has welcomed the news that 186 Primary and Post Primary schools in County Tipperary are set to receive almost €1.2 million as part of a €30 million investment in ICT infrastructure grants from the Department of Education. Deputy McGrath went on to say that the investment must be seen as an initial first step in the need for more wide ranging supports for schools who are struggling to operate to their full potential:
The investment of €1,199,326 in Tipperary schools is of course to be welcomed.
However we must see this in the context of the broader challenges that still remain with respect to school building infrastructure or the urgent need to re-designate certain schools as DEIS schools.
When seen in that light the €30 million investment is small change for what is required to bring many of our schools and in particular our rural schools, up to scratch.
Many schools in rural areas will be feeling the effect of low speed broadband and other connectivity issues so those issues must also be addressed if we are talking about increasing ICT capacity.
Under this grant payment scheme the rates payable are €2,000 per school plus €22.20 per mainstream pupil in primary schools, with additional per capita payments for pupils in DEIS schools, Special Classes and Special Schools.
At post-primary, the rates payable are €2,000 per school plus €31.90 per student, with an additional per capita payment for students in DEIS schools.
The grant is worth approximately €4,000 for a 100 pupil school and approximately €11,000 for a 500 pupil school at primary level. At post-primary level, the grant is worth circa €15,000 for a 500 student school, and over €27,000 for a 1,000 student school.
All of this will go some way toward addressing the needs that exist, but we should not let it blind us to the massive problems that many schools are still facing in terms of staffing and resource hours for Special Needs Assistants.
Those are the kind of issues that are of far more concern to parents and that must be prioritised without delay,” concluded Deputy McGrath.