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Department of Education

School books for junior cycle students to be provided for free starting next September

The expansion of the scheme follows the one originally announced in the Government’s last budget, which cover primary students.

JUNIOR CYCLE STUDENTS will receive free school books next year as part of the Government’s 2024 budget, which was announced today by Minister for Public Expenditure Paschal Donohoe.

“This will benefit over 200,000 pupils,” Donohoe said. 

The expansion of the scheme follows the one originally announced in the Government’s last budget, which made schoolbooks free for primary school students.

“I am providing funding to extend the free schoolbooks scheme to all junior third cycle pupils in recognised post primary schools within the free education scheme from September next year.

“These announcements represent further important strides in transforming the quality, the affordability and the inclusivity of our education system,” the minister said.

As is the case with the primary school books scheme, which came into effect when schools returned in September, this is to be a permanent measure. 

The provision of free schoolbooks has been lobbied for by parents groups and charities for years and the limiting of the scheme to only primary level students last time round was met with frustration and confusion following its announcement last year.  

Commenting on the announcement, Tanya Ward, chief executive of the Children’s Rights Alliance said:

“For the second year in a row, we see significant effort from Government to address the high cost of education that places a serious strain on families each September. The provision of free school books at primary level last year has already seen positive outcomes, with calls for support from our members St Vincent de Paul, down by 20% in the first year of the scheme.

“Investing in these services puts money back in the pockets of families juggling the increased cost of living. The continued investment to expand free school books to second level is hugely positive.

“It will provide certainty that many families living in poverty do not have when it comes to how they will get their children ready for back to school. We know that the cost of books increases alongside the cost of clothes, food and activities for teenagers.

“We urge Government to progress this to ensure every student can benefit from this scheme by extending this to all of second level in next year’s budget.” 

National Women’s Council director Orla O’Connor said: “This will be really positive for many lone parents and other families who are struggling to fund and participate in education at the moment.”  

You can find full details of today’s Budget announcement in our roundup here

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