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25 June 2012
Commenting on the announcement by Education minister John O'Dowd of additional funding for new and refurbished school buildings, Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT, the largest teachers' union in the UK and in Northern Ireland, said:
"Savage and unnecessary austerity measures have taken a massive toll on schools and education services in Northern Ireland and therefore the announcement of any additional funding is much needed and to be welcomed.
"The NASUWT has been highlighting the urgent need to address the years of underinvestment in school buildings which has left many teachers and pupils to learn and work in environments which are not appropriate for education in the 21st Century.
"However, welcome as this announcement may be, the fact remains that schools are facing a huge challenge in terms of the rationalisation of the schools estate, leaving hundreds of teachers facing redundancy.
"Investment must not only be made in buildings, but also in the school workforce to ensure that teachers can continue to do the best for the children and young people they teach."
Seamus Searson, NASUWT Northern Ireland organiser, said:
"The NASUWT will be seeking further engagement with the Department for Education over the plans, particularly given that Mr O'Dowd has stated that priority is to be given to funding projects which support the amalgamation or rationalisation of schools.
"The NASUWT will be pressing to ensure that the needs of all schools are taken into consideration when funding is being allocated.
"Investment in education is investment in the economic future of the country."