Written Answers. - Grant Schemes.
77 Mr. Sargent asked the Minister for Education the number and the nature of the various grant schemes which she has approved in respect of her Department and its subordinate agencies; the schedule for these schemes; the objective of each such scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7932/96]
Details of proposed expenditure within my Department for the current year, including expenditure on all grants and services, are contained in the 1996 Revised Estimates for Public Services.
I understand, however, that the Deputy is seeking information on new grant schemes which I have implemented or approved since I came into office. I have introduced a total of ten new grant schemes. The details of the various new schemes are set out in the following schedule.
1. A grant of £200 per pupil to help meet instruction non pay costs is paid in respect of junior education centres for travellers. These centres cater for traveller children in the 12-15 age bracket.
2. I initiated the allocation of grants from the disadvantaged areas fund at primary level to alleviate the severe debt burden of some disadvantaged schools. Such grants amounted to £221,307 in 1993, £341,831 in 1994 and £159,500 in 1995. A total of 52 primary schools were assisted in this way.
3. I approved a scheme to provide grant aid to potential medal winners to allow them to go into full-time training for the 1996 Olympic Games. This scheme has cost £150,000 in each of the years 1994, 1995 and 1996.
4. I established the early start pre-school programme on a pilot basis in areas of high disadvantage to cater for children in the 3-4 age range. The early start programme was expanded in September 1995, and a total of 40 disadvantaged national schools now have a pre-school service catering for 1,890 children. Grants paid to early start pre-schools amounted to £88,045 in 1994 and £408,300 in 1995. These grants in 1995 comprised: start-up grant of £4,500 per pre-school unit; capitation grant of £65 per pupil; and grant for parental involvement of £1,500 per pre-school.
5. A once off grant of £36,000 was made available for the installation of telecommunication facilities to all island schools. The objective of this grant was to provide telephones, fax facilities, modems, computers and printers, and thereby alleviate the sense of remoteness of these schools by providing up to date communication facilities.
6. I made additional grants available for materials and equipment purchase for junior classes of primary schools which have early start pre-school projects at a rate of £1,500 per class and a total cost of £84,000. A grant was also paid in 1995 to 38 disadvantaged primary schools at a rate of £3,000 per school for the purchase of computer equipment.
7. I allocated £150,000 for a pilot scheme of grant-aid towards the provision of escorts on certain school transport services. Funding under the pilot scheme was allocated to special schools for physically handicapped children in respect of their daily transport routes and to provide assistance towards the cost of escorts for pupils attending the special schools for the hearing-impaired and visually-impaired who travel long distances by bus and train at weekends.
8. To complement the existing Ón nGaeltacht and trí Ghaeilge scholarship schemes and to further promote education through Irish, I introduced a new third level scholarship scheme in the 1995-96 academic year.
To encourage students to pursue second level education through Irish, 15 scholarships are awarded annually under this scheme based on the leaving certificate results. Candidates eligible for consideration for this scholarship competition would be those who:
(a) had taken their second level education through Irish; and
(b) had taken their leaving certificate examination through Irish.
Winners under this scholarship scheme are funded to pursue one undergraduate and one postgraduate course as approved under the higher education grants scheme.
9. A scheme of grants towards the purchase of equipment for the use of pupils with a disability was introduced in second level schools.
The objective of the scheme is to provide equipment of direct educational benefit for use in schools by pupils who have been diagnosed as having serious physical and-or communicative disabilities.
Applications for grants with accompanying medical evidence are submitted by school management to the Department throughout the year. The Department considers and processes the applications as they are received.
10. Commencing in January 1997, each national school will receive an annual grant of £2,000 plus £9 per pupil to carry out minor improvements to school buildings and facilities.
The new scheme will replace the existing centralised system whereby the schools applied to the Department for grants for individual projects.