THE St Vincent de Paul is to meet with the Minister for Education in the coming weeks to try and convince him to help families who are struggling to cope with the cost of schoolbooks which it has branded “crazy and unnecessary”.
According to its estimates, by the time they leave school, a family with four children could have spent as much as €3,200 on secondary schoolbooks alone, that most of the time can’t even be reused.
The SVP said the constant flow of unnecessary new editions means that families are forced to keep forking out for new texts, while tonnes of books end up being dumped.
A petition has been set up at www.svp.ie/books, to call on Ruairi Quinn to set up an effective book rental scheme.
“Ireland is one of only a few European countries to make even the poorest pay for books. It’s a shocking burden on hard-pressed families,” the SVP said.
Most European countries operate schoolbook rental schemes, where schools buy the books and rent or loan them out to students in return for a small fee or deposit.
This means that teachers can set a book and be sure that there are enough copies for all their students.
While some schools in Ireland have started to do this, the practice is not policy and it is up to individual schools to take the initiative.
“At the moment the Department of Education gives money to schools to spend on books, but they don’t have to set up a book rental scheme,” a spokesperson for the SVP said.
“If funding for books only went to schools who had book rental schemes, more schools would set them up. Frequent new revisions would become a thing of the past as the books could be reused.”
The SVP said it regularly sees families struggling to deal with the costs of preparing the kids for a new school term. It is calling for a change in policy which would lift some of this burden off families altogether.
“Frequent school book edition changes, particularly at second level, puts too many parents under lots of pressure and hardship. This could be changed if there was more funding from the Department of Education to properly stock schoolbook rental schemes.”
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