Urgent need for new classrooms at Muslim school
THE Muslim population in south Dublin has grown so fast that the city's largest Islamic school can no longer cope.
More than 120 kids have been turned away from the Muslim National School in Clonskeagh because the school's prefabs can fit no more children.
The school has had to put up with prefabs as classrooms for the past 10 years, despite Department of Education promises of a permanent building.
Principal Colm McGlade told the Herald that Department inspectors said more than three years ago that the school should be expanded with a permanent building.
"We have applied to the Department of Education for permission to expand the school on the advice of inspectors from the department who visited the school in 2006, when they saw the amount of applications we receive, and the amount of students being turned away.
"They advised us to apply for permission to expand the school three years ago, and the Department did give us permission in principle. We were given lots of advice on the building of expansions."
Of 160 applications every year, the school only has capacity to enrol around 36 students.
And despite the department's advice, Mr McGlade said he has received no permission to move ahead with plans for a permanent building in the 270-pupil school.
"Nothing has happened since. I get letters back saying that nothing has been approved. I have written in the last few weeks to the Department of Education, and I got a letter back saying that it can't commit to when."
"We're a Band Two school, which comes behind Band One, which are given priority," he added.
The Muslim National School is a popular choice among parents in the Muslim community all over Dublin, since children in the school learn Arabic and regularly pray in the nearby mosque.
"It is urgent, because every year we're turning away students, the majority because we can't accommodate them," Mr McGlade explained.
"We're hoping to buy land nearby, but we need funding to do that. I'm looking to get funding from the Islamic Cultural Centre, but they're not going to give it until the Department gives the building the go-ahead."
A spokesperson from the Department of Education said: "The Department is making real progress on the prefab reform agenda. All schools receiving grant aid towards the purchase of temporary accommodation are given the option of purchasing a prefab or using the grant aid to construct a permanent building."
Mr McGlade stressed: "Three years ago they gave us permission, and the next step would be to give us permission to appoint a design team. It'll be years before the whole thing is done."