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Dáil Éireann debate -
Thursday, 30 Oct 1958

Vol. 171 No. 3

Ceisteanna—Questions. - Selected Books in Schools and Colleges.

asked the Minister for Education if he will ensure that selected books be prescribed in schools and colleges for a minimum number of years so that they may be passed on to younger children in the same family.

It will be appreciated that it is desirable that managers and teachers should have as much freedom as possible in the selection of the texts to be used in the schools. Whilst that is so, the Department discourages the unnecessary changing of textbooks.

A notice in the following terms is now included in the list of approved books which is sent each year to managers and principal teachers of national schools:—

"To save parents undue expense, care should be taken to see that school books are not changed too frequently. Where a class is taught as a separate unit, the same books should be kept in use for a number of years, unless there are special reasons for changing them. A similar arrangement should, as far as possible, be adopted where two or more classes are grouped for teaching purposes. In such groups pupils will require fresh reading matter and possibly a change of reader also for their second year in the group, but other textbooks should not be changed unless when absolutely necessary. The same readers and textbooks should be used in the group every third year at least."

Texts are not prescribed for use in vocational schools, their selection being a matter for the school authorities and teachers. I understand, however, that in particular subjects the same texts are used from year to year in these schools.

In regard to secondary schools, it would for obvious reasons not be possible to continue the same language texts in use from year to year. For the most part a three year rotation of standard textbooks is prescribed for the different languages and as a result the cost of language textbooks is kept as low as possible. In the case of Latin and Greek the rotation is a four year one and in the case of English poetry, French poetry and English prose the rotation is such as to permit of the same textbooks being used year after year. As regards Irish, while there is not a prescribed rotation of prose texts, the same texts are, in fact, repeated frequently. The result of this, coupled with the fact that in subjects such as mathematics and geography the same texts are in general use from year to year, is that each year a ready supply of secondhand textbooks is available.

One can appreciate that there is a necessity to give a certain amount of latitude to teachers to change books in the secondary schools, but surely there is not the same necessity in the primary schools? The Minister has to-day given his opinion on the question of the books that ought to be used. He has given it at the Fianna Fáil Árd Fheis, as well.

The Deputy is making a speech.

As far as the primary schools are concerned, the Minister should give a firm direction. Parents of large families find it very difficult to hand out pounds to their children for books at the beginning of the school year, finding that the books that have been used in the previous year have been changed at some whim or fad of the teacher.

I shall see if anything can be done.

In the primary schools at least, I think there is not much necessity to change books from year to year, or even every two years.