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One third of Irish secondary schools don't have a book rental scheme

The average cost of sending a child back to school is over €1,000.

Image: Shutterstock/Billion Photos

ALTHOUGH SCHOOL COSTS have been mounting up, one third of all secondary schools across Ireland don’t have a book rental scheme.

The figures have come to light this week and led to calls for the scheme to be picked up by more schools.

A recent survey from the Irish League of Credit Unions recently found that the average cost of sending a child back to school is over €1,185.

Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Education and Skills Teachta Carol Nolan, who released the figures after receiving them on foot of a parliamentary question, has called on the Minister for Education Richard Bruton to address the cost of school books in this year’s budget.

Deputy Nolan Nolan said:

We have seen from recent surveys carried out by Barnardos and the Irish League of Credit Unions that the cost of school books remains one of the significant costs of sending children back to school.
Figures released by the Department of Education show clearly that there is an uneven spread of school book rental schemes in secondary schools across the state.

She pointed out that in Dublin, 37% of secondary schools operate a book rental scheme while 100% of secondary schools in Leitrim do so.

Sinn Féin has called for an increase of 30% in the School Books Grant at an approximate cost of €5 million in order to make affordable school books more accessible to students.

Facts and figures

In an answer to Deputy Nolan’s parliamentary question, Education Minister Richard Bruton said that his department provides funding to schools to support the operation of school book rental schemes.

The most recent figures available at primary level indicate that 95% of primary schools operate a book rental scheme.The most recent figures available at second level indicate that 65% of second level schools operate book rental schemes.

He attached a breakdown of the schools which operate the scheme.

They show that:

  • 100% of secondary schools in Leitrim (7) and 91% of schools in Carlow (10) and Offaly (10) have the scheme
  • 37% of schools in Dublin (71), 38% in Roscommon (3) and 41% in Kildare (11) have the scheme.

In a statement to TheJournal.ie, the Department of Education said its approach “is to support and encourage all schools to have book rental schemes”.

There is a School Books Grant Scheme in place that provides assistance for books for students and to support book rental schemes in all recognised primary and post-primary schools within the Free Education Scheme.
Under this scheme, the Department has provided over €25 million to post-primary schools in the last 3 years. The arrangements in relation to this scheme are set out in Circular 0046/2013 which is published on the Department’s website.

The department launched guidelines for developing textbook rental schemes in schools in 2013, which provide practical advice to primary and post-primary schools on how rental schemes can be established and operated.

“The aim of the guidelines is to help as many schools as possible to start such book rental programmes,” said the department, which also published a special Guide for Parents.

It added that the Government has just launched the first Action Plan for Education, “aimed at making the Irish education and training service the best in Europe by 2026″.

It noted that a number of the actions aim to strengthen the focus on reducing school costs for parents.

Read: Sending a child back to school costs over €1,000>

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