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Last Updated: Monday, 29 January 2007, 16:19 GMT
Parties do battle over schools
A classroom
Labour has pledged to refurbish and build new schools
School buildings have became the latest battleground in the Holyrood election campaign with rival promises from Labour and the SNP.

First Minister Jack McConnell said some 200 schools had already been modernised but he underlined a commitment to rebuild a further 100 by 2009.

He also pledged action on an additional 150 schools between 2009 and 2011.

The SNP said it would match Labour's plans "brick for brick" and would also reform the funding of such projects.

Mr McConnell was speaking during a visit to Stirling High School where he began his teaching career.

The high school is one of the 200 already built or modernised in what is claimed to be the biggest school building programme in Scottish history.

An SNP government will match the current school building programme brick for brick and offer a Scottish Futures Trust as a new, better value option for future infrastructure funding
Fiona Hyslop MSP

But the financing method, the Private Finance Initiative (PFI) and its successor the Public Private Partnership (PPP) has been heavily criticised by opposition parties.

Mr McConnell said: "In May, Scotland has a simple choice, between Labour who will put Scotland's education first, or the SNP who will put independence first."

"Our central political and strategic objective is to make Scotland's education system the best in the world once more, by 2020."

He said Scottish Labour would accelerate the school building programme and build or refurbish 250 schools in the next session of parliament.

But the SNP's education and lifelong learning spokeswoman Fiona Hyslop called for a fresh approach to funding such capital projects.

Ms Hyslop said: "After eight years of Labour too many of our schools are in desperate need of repair and many more need to be built.

"That's why the SNP is committed to continue the current executive programme of school building and refurbishment, as part of our wider plans to provide a better start for our young people.

"An SNP government will match the current school building programme brick for brick and offer a Scottish Futures Trust as a new, better value option for future infrastructure funding.

"We want a scheme which doesn't take money away from front line services."




SEE ALSO
Parent body visits Gaelic school
23 Jan 07 |  Highlands and Islands
Green energy call for new schools
16 Jan 07 |  South of Scotland
Private finance hospital warning
07 Dec 06 |  Scotland

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