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Free school books for primary school students in Budget education package

There has been widespread support for the announcement.

Image: Shutterstock

Updated Sep 26th 2022, 9:52 AM

THERE HAS BEEN a widespread welcome for a move that will see the State provide free school books for all primary school students from next September. 

It’s understood the initiative will be announced tomorrow as part of Budget 2023 and comes following years of lobbying by parents’ groups and charities.

Unlike once-off cost-of-living measures to combat the energy crisis, the school books initiative is to be a permanent measure, with €47 million allocated for the scheme next year. 

  • The Noteworthy team wants to investigate if publishers are profiting from new school book editions. Support this project here.

Education Minister Norma Foley is expected to officially announce the school books plan tomorrow and will also confirm a 1 point reduction in the average pupil teacher ratio to 23:1. 

Responding to the news this morning, chief executive of the Children’s Rights Alliance Tanya Ward said free school book will make a real difference to many children.

“Free school books was a big part of the #NoChild2020 campaign. Government committed to a pilot then. This Budget will make it national so all children can benefit,” she tweeted. 

Ward added that free school books was “the norm in Europe and in Northern Ireland” and is a “significant measure” to assist in the battle against child poverty. 

Opposition parties have consistently called for a free school books scheme, with Labour saying in June that an emergency cost-of-living budget should include the measure. 

Sinn Féin published a Dáil motion to cut back-to-school costs in July which noted that a free school books scheme has been in operation in Northern Ireland since 1947.

Speaking today, Labour’s education spokesperson Aodhán Ó Ríordáin TD said: “Proud of our Labour campaign for free school books which we’ve consistently called for every budget cycle. We’ve put this measure at the top of the education agenda and it’s finally coming to fruition. We’ll wait to see the details tomorrow but this is a positive move.”

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Rónán Duffy

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