A CORK primary school principal has welcomed the announcement of a new scheme by Education Minister Norma Foley which will provide free schoolbooks in primary and special schools.
The initiative, which will begin in autumn 2023, will also provide workbooks and copybooks. More than 558,000 pupils enrolled in approximately 3,230 primary schools, including over 130 special schools, will benefit.
Schoolbooks will remain property of the school and must be returned at the end of the school year.
The news was welcomed by Scoil Padre Pio, Churchfield, principal Ken Foley. “It is great news. It will take a lot of pressure off families. It couldn’t have come at a better time. People are struggling. People are under huge pressure to put food on the table, let alone think about books. This news is very welcome for all schools. We are delighted with it,” he said.
“There is always a big cost associated with returning to school every year,” said Mr Foley.
“It is all catching up with people now. With the way bills are now, there is no way we can go to parents at the end of the school year and ask for more money for school books. It is way down their list of priorities at the moment. This news is fantastic for parents.”
Ms Foley said: “The objective of the new scheme is about ensuring every child has the resources required to access education and also easing financial burdens surrounding the back-to-school costs which can be a cause of financial difficulty for many families each year.”
Barnardos CEO Suzanne Connolly said: “It will make a real difference to the lives of families across the country, many of whom face considerable financial pressures each summer to meet the cost of back-to-school expenses. It will go a small way to helping place all primary school children on a more level playing field as they start back to school each September.”
To help administration of this scheme, the department is allocating a grant to schools for the 2023/24 year, based on size, to assist with additional work required to implement the scheme. Schools may use this grant to employ an individual to carry out administrative work on the scheme.