Under the Renewed Programme for Government agreed between Fianna Fáil and the Green Party, a revised version of the book grant scheme was restored.
The scheme sees an additional €21 allocation per child for books to primary schools in disadvantaged areas, while schools in non-disadvantaged areas are being allocated an additional €11 per child. Similarly, second-level schools in disadvantaged areas have been allocated extra funding of €39 per child for books, while those in non-disadvantaged areas have been allocated an additional €24 per child.
However, a spokesperson for the INTO said that due to the financial pressure parents are under, the extra funding is not sufficient.
“The number of families needing financial assistance for books will increase significantly due to job cuts and shorter working hours.
“Eleven euro to purchase books for a child won’t go very far — books for a child in fifth or sixth class could cost up to €100.”
Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI) education officer Bernie Judge said that there was also concern that the funding would not be used for its intended purpose: “We welcome the fact that the book grant scheme has been restored, but we are concerned about the lack of weighting of funds.”
Tánaiste and Education Minister Mary Coughlan is urging schools to implement book rental schemes.
The TUI, however, says the ban on appointments to public service posts has resulted in many schools losing the administrative post that would previously have organised book rental schemes.
The spokesperson for the INTO added: “There are limits to what book rental schemes can achieve. A book doesn’t last forever, and children should be entitled to new books.”