Local TD Jennifer Whitmore has called on the Government to address the high cost of schoolbooks for parents of secondary school students. The Wicklow TD raised this issue with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in the Dáil yesterday on behalf of parents in the constituency who are facing daunting book bills this summer ahead of the return to school. This follows the publication of the results of the Irish League of Credit Unions’ Annual School Costs survey, tracking the costs and impacts of children returning to school.
Deputy Whitmore said:
“I know I speak for many parents of children in secondary school when I say we are sick and tired of forking out large sums of money every year for schoolbooks. It is particularly galling that parents have to recycle perfectly good books at the end of each school term and that siblings are unable to transfer e-codes to each other.
“The League of Credit Unions published the results of its annual School Costs survey this week and of their respondents 80% of parents have seen an increase to their back to school costs this year. The survey found parents are spending on average €1,288 per secondary school child, and books account for a significant proportion of these costs.
“Hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of schoolbooks are thrown out each year just because there are minor changes made to new editions. This is both costly and wasteful. I know of families in Wicklow who are buying multiples of the same books, for two and three years in a row simply because they cannot share the e-codes with their siblings coming up behind them. This is a waste of money and waste of hard copy books, which come with each e-book purchase.
“Ideally, I would like to see free schoolbooks extended to secondary schools, as will be the case at primary level from September. Until this happens, the Department of Education needs to bring in the publishing companies and discuss how costs can be reduced for hard-pressed parents. There needs to be a mechanism for families to share e-books, either through parent emails or the schools themselves.
“This has been going on for far too long. Given that we are in the middle of a cost-of-living crisis, such needless waste of money and resources should no longer be tolerated.”