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Education Committee calls for book rental schemes to curb back to school costs

The Oireachtas Joint Committee on Education and Social Protection this afternoon called for the introduction of school book rental schemes in every school, the establishment of finance committees in school communities and the introduction of generic school uniforms.

25 June 2013

The Committee also recommends the banning of workbooks and the introduction of strict controls on voluntary contributions.
The proposals are contained in a Committee report on tackling back to school costs, which the Committee considers will help Irish educational policy to return to the value of free education. The report points to what the Committee sees as a vacuum of leadership at patron body level in providing guidelines in this area.

The report recommends that:

  • schools should establish finance committees within their school communities to properly oversee the funding and expenditure requirements of pupils, parents and schools;
  • school book rental schemes should be available in every school, and that local authorities have a key role to play in this regard;
  • workbooks should be banned;
  • school uniforms should be generic, and patron bodies must show more leadership in this regard, and
  • voluntary contributions, if not prohibited, should be strictly controlled.

Chair of the Education Committee Joanna Tuffy says: “This Committee is acutely aware of the challenge of meeting back-to-school costs that has been confronting families for many years. Despite the steps that have been taken to address this problem, there is a clear sense that this burden has been progressively increasing.   At a time when ever-more families have difficulties meeting their many financial obligations, renewed commitment is now required to tackling the difficulty. This report has been compiled with that urgency in mind, highlighting concrete and realistic ways in which the problem can be tackled.”

Vice-Chair and Report Rapporteur Aodhán Ó Riordáin TD says: “On behalf out the Committee I wish to thank all organisations and individuals who took the time out to make written and oral submissions, which flowed into the report. The report distils these contributions into what the Committee believes are practical steps that can be taken to reduce the cost of equipping children for school at primary and secondary levels. Underpinning our report is the need for a fundamental culture change at the heart of Irish education. It is essential that policy makers, school managers and patrons revert to the aspiration of delivering a system of free education.”

Download Report on Tackling Back to School Costs

View video clip of Deputy Ó Riordáin discussing the report:

For further information contact:
Paul Hand,
Communications Unit,
Houses of the Oireachtas,
Leinster House,
Dublin 2
P: +3531 618 4484
M: +353 87 694 9926

Committee Membership

James Bannon, Fine Gael
Ray Butler, Fine Gael
Joan Collins, People Before Profit
Clare Daly, Independent
Brendan Griffin, Fine Gael
Simon Harris, Fine Gael
Charlie McConalogue, Fianna Fáil
Nicky McFadden, Fine Gael
Jonathan O'Brien, Sinn Féin
Mary Mitchell O’Connor, Fine Gael
Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, Labour Party (Vice Chair)
Aengus Ó Snodaigh, Sinn Féin
Willie O’Dea, Fianna Fáil
Brendan Ryan, Labour Party
Joanna Tuffy, Labour Party (Chair)

Jim D’Arcy
Fidelma Healy Eames
Marie Moloney
Averil Power
Marie Louise O’Donnell