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£173m investment for 18 schools

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Northern Ireland Education Minister John O'Dowd has announced a 173 million pound investment package for schools

Northern Ireland Education Minister John O'Dowd has announced a 173 million pound investment package for schools

Northern Ireland Education Minister John O'Dowd has announced a 173 million pound investment package for schools

Eighteen Northern Ireland schools will receive new facilities as part of a £173 million investment, Education Minister John O'Dowd has said.

The money includes payments for five special schools. A total of 17 of the schools will be rebuilt.

Foyle College in Derry and Victoria Park primary school in Belfast are among those granted funding, Mr O'Dowd added.

He said: "This will be good news for the pupils and communities directly affected. A world-class educational environment will help us deliver the improvements in educational outcomes we are working so hard to achieve."

It is the first money made available for major projects since August 2010 when capital spending was frozen. Some schools have been waiting years for urgent rebuilding or refurbishment.

Mr O'Dowd said there was a clear need for considerable investment in infrastructure.

He added: "The need for investment far exceeds the funding available. While I would like to be in a position to fund everything that needs doing now, I must work within the budget available. This means difficult decisions on future investment plans."

He said the schools were identified as the highest priority projects following a rigorous selection process.

Alongside the immediate commencement of these new builds, Mr O'Dowd announced funding to progress a number of additional projects through the planning process.

Mr O'Dowd also announced the establishment of a new Schools Enhancement Programme, which will make available funding of up to £4 million for any individual project refurbishing or extending existing schools.

PA