28/05/2012

More Than Three Quarters Of Primary Schools Operate Book Rental Schemes

New research by the Department of Education and Skills shows that 76% of primary schools operate a school book rental scheme.

The Minister for Education and Skills, Ruairí Quinn T.D., asked the Department to undertake an investigation of book rental schemes in order to examine ways to reduce the financial burden of school books on families.

The 3,300 primary and special schools nationwide were asked in their annual returns to the Department if they operated a textbook rental or loan scheme to enable pupils to rent or borrow some or all of their main books. 99% of schools answered the question and more than three quarters said that they did. The results at second level were not as conclusive, as only 44% of the 723 post-primary schools responded to the question in a separate survey. Of those who did respond, 88% of those in the VEC sector and 73% of those in the Community & Comprehensive sector operated a book rental scheme.

Minister Quinn also announced that he is protecting the level of funding of grants to schools for books in the coming academic year. “Despite the challenging economic times, this government is committed to doing everything it can to reduce the financial burden of school books on families so I have ring-fenced €15 million in textbook grants to be distributed to schools next month.”

This money will be distributed at the same rate as last year to DEIS and non-DEIS schools.

“I am very pleased to see the high level of book rental schemes in operation at primary school level and want to encourage this practice across all schools in our education landscape,” continued Minister Quinn.

“I am publishing draft “Guidelines on Developing School Textbook Rental Schemes” today in order to share best practice on these schemes with all schools in primary and post primary.”

The new guidelines are as a result of collaboration between the Department’s Inspectorate, the National Parent’s Councils primary and post-primary, Barnardos and the Society of St Vincent de Paul. Minister Quinn has invited education stakeholders to comment on the guidelines by June 15th. Last year a number of organisations including the SVP and Barnardos argued that the Department should adjust or make mandatory the operation of book rental schemes in schools.

(CD/GK)

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