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‘Building for the Future’ National Awards Ceremony at St. Patrick’s College, Drumcondra


I am delighted to be here again this morning to celebrate the 6th National Awards’ ceremony for the ‘Building for the Future’ programme. 

This has become an annual event for me, serving as a reminder of the great strengths and supports that exist between Irish communities and their local primary schools.  While we are here to recognise the work of the schools who were most successful in 2005, it is also fitting to acknowledge the wonderful work of all those who registered to take part in the programme this year.     

I would like to begin my remarks by congratulating each of today’s winners on their success, both in winning their respective awards and for the quality of the projects they have completed.  This year’s theme ‘Improving our Community’ encouraged pupils to focus on different aspects of their local heritage.  In so doing, it enabled you to gain a deep appreciation and understanding of the environment in which you are growing up. 

The benefits to pupils of involvement with this programme are many.  In bringing the community into the classroom, pupils develop a better understanding of the role they play in its development and its conservation.  The programme also encourages the involvement of the pupils’ families with its activities, particularly with the collection of the all-important tokens for entry to the competition!  I would like to thank both you and the wider community for that support, which is invaluable to the success of this programme.

The focus on the local community also strengthens pupils’ understanding of the importance of people working together to preserve what is best about their environment for future generations.  Furthermore, it helps them to build their communication and team-working skills, which are vital to their ongoing development.  In particular, I would like to thank all of the teachers who facilitated their pupils in bringing together their projects this year.  Your commitment to ensuring the all-round development of your students shines through in the quality of the work presented here today.

Since its inception, the Building for the Future programme has been generously sponsored by the Irish and Sunday Independents and the CIÉ Group of companies – Bus Éireann, Dublin Bus and Iarnród Éireann.  In addition to providing communications equipment to all schools that enter, the Cash Development Grant prize pool is divided among the county and regional winners.  I am sure that the prizes awarded will be used wisely by the winners to develop the aims of the projects they have undertaken.

The sponsors of the ‘Building for the Future’ programme represent two of the major players in our media and transport sectors.   Irish Independent Group, through its promotion of the programme in its newspapers, ensures that families and communities can help schools in a practical way.  This provides a mechanism for improving the involvement of parents as partners in the education process. 

The CIÉ group has long established links with school communities through its involvement with the school transport system.  Recently, the Government announced a comprehensive set of measures for the improvement of that transport system to the tune of over €30 million.  This involves the addition of over 400 buses, including over 130 double-deck buses, to the Bus Éireann fleet by 2006.  It is intended that all the measures, including the fitting of seat belts in school buses will be completed as quickly as possible to meet our target date of the end of 2006.  The rollout is a vital strand in the Department of Education and Science’s strategy of continuous expansion and improvement in the school transport system and focussing above all, on pupil safety. 

I wish once again to congratulate all of you on taking part in this year’s competition.  This programme has opened your eyes to the rich heritage that is at the heart of communities around the country.  I hope that you will continue to value and to preserve that heritage so that your children, and indeed your children’s children, will be able to enjoy it as much as you have in the years to come.

Comhghairdeachas daoibh go léir!

Thank you.