Monday 22 January 2018

Book rentals and limited edition changes backed by Minister reporters

Education Minister Ruairi Quinn today gave his backing to school book rental schemes.

The Minister said schools should benefit from the bulk buying of book like any commercial bookshops and this method in turn could help reduce the financial burden on hard-pressed parents in the current economic climate.

The Minister disclosed that he had already reached agreement with publishers to limit the number of new editions of textbooks but felt much more could be done to reduce costs in the area.

"This country is in receivership and we have to act decisively," he said on RTE's Morning Ireland. "This was one area where parents had power and some degree of control," he stressed.

Referring to the book rental scheme option within schools, Mr Quinn said that the cost of participating for parents for their child from first year to Junior certificate would be far less than the present situation.

The Minister accepted that he was still gathering information on how achieving reductions in costs would work but he was confident that he would have systems in place in time for the next academic year.

When asked about the growing practice of voluntary contributions and in one case where contributions of €500 up front was sought, Mr Quinn said it would not be allowed in the document he would be putting forward.

Speaking broadly the Minister said the national spend on education had fallen in recent years and as a nation: "We have to reduce our spending across the board. Expenditure in education would be driven by pupil numbers.” He added that the percentage of government spend in education would be lower than in health or social welfare.

The President of the INTO Noreen Flynn said publishers were now looking at having no new editions of textbook for three to four years, but she warned that schools would need money to set up such rental schemes.

Ferdia Kelly, the general secretary of the Joint Managerial Body representing 400 voluntary secondary schools said it was exceedingly difficult for schools to balance their books.

"Schools are trying to make ends meet. It would be very difficult to get a level to seed funding to start up rental schemes."

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