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Thursday 7 December 2023 Dublin: 10°C
Shutterstock School books
Back To School

Government urged to extend school books grant to secondary schools

The move follows the publication of a Barnardos survey earlier today which found that 24% of secondary school parents had to take out a loan or borrow from friends to cover back to school costs.

SINN FÉIN AND the Labour party have both called on the government today to extend the school books grant scheme to secondary school students. 

The opposition parties’ renewed calls come in response to the results of a Barnados’ survey today which found that it costs just under €1,000to send a child to their first year of secondary school.

Of those who took part in the Barnardos’ survey, 24% of secondary school parents had to take out a loan or borrow from friends to cover such costs.

“Sinn Féin fully supports Barnardos’ call for extension of the School Books Grant Scheme to secondary schools, and the government must act to ensure that families get this support urgently, as September is approaching quickly,” the party’s education spokesperson Sorca Clarke said. 

Clarke said that in reality Ireland is a country with free education “in name only”. 

“Parents are already trying to budget for significant additional costs – for everything from uniforms to devices, from books to transport. 

“On top of all of this, parents are being asked to pay hundreds of euro in so-called ‘voluntary contributions’ because of the legacy of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael’s failure to properly fund our education system,” she said.

 “With so many already struggling in a cost-of-living crisis, with eye-watering energy bills and increased mortgage repayments, families need a break from back-to-school costs now,” the Longford Westmeath TD added.

Clarke’s comments have been echoed by Labour spokesperson for education, Aodhán Ó Ríordáin who said making all school books free is a “clear and obvious” starting point towards addressing spiralling school costs for families. 

“We estimate the annual cost of this would be €85 million across our entire school system. Families are struggling and they need a break and assurance that this government will give their child every opportunity to thrive, regardless of their economic circumstances,” Ó Ríordáin said.

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