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Parents must all oppose books bill

Sir -- Congratulations to Eilis O'Hanlon on her excellent article on the cost of schoolbooks.

I am a mother from Swinford, Co Mayo, who has been hammered with huge book bills for many years.

Last May I wrote to the Education Minister to complain. His department quickly informed me that this matter had absolutely nothing to do with them -- the selection of books rests entirely with principals and teachers of individual schools.

I then wrote to the Environment Minister to object to the absence of any stipulation that 'Green Schools' must re-use books, and to point out the huge environmental damage of such a large amount of new print each year.

They referred my query back to Education.

I even wrote to Joan Burton in Social Protection to complain of the great waste of taxpayers' money giving book grants to needy families when, in fact, we all should be able to purchase perfectly serviceable second-hand books if schools would only stop the crazy practice of employing single-use workbooks and insisting on the latest versions of perfectly adequate textbooks. My points were noted, I was told.

Well, nothing has changed. Education Minister Ruairi Quinn is saying "more could be done" to help parents, but he is quite happy to kick the can down the road (we will not see any change until next year).

Ultimately it is up to us parents to demand a better deal. We are paying for everything, and we are totally exploited. We must unite to object to the present system.

Margaret Finn,

Swinford, Co Mayo

Sunday Independent