Thursday, 30 May 2013

Questions (96)

Michael Healy-Rae


96. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Education and Skills his views on correspondence (details supplied) regarding the cost of school books; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26462/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I am very conscious that the cost of textbooks is a considerable burden on families. Since becoming Minister for Education and Skills, I have attempted to take steps to reduce the burden on families. Shortly after coming into office I met with members of the Irish Educational Publishers' Association and impressed on them the need to limit the cost of textbooks. I have also stressed to them the real need to avoid placing schools and families in a position where textbooks are altered unnecessarily.

The Association has responded positively to my approaches and have agreed a voluntary Code of Practice among their members. The Code commits the publishers to limit the publication of new editions and to maintaining editions of books in print unchanged for at least six years. The publishers have also given assurances to me that they will sell textbooks to schools at discounts so that schools can purchase textbooks in bulk to stock textbook rental schemes. The Deputy should note that educational book publishers are independent private companies and are not under the direct control of my Department. Accordingly, I have no role or powers to intervene in the production decisions of these companies, such as those you have highlighted.

As the Deputy is aware I met with the Irish Educational Publishers' Association shortly after my appointment as Minister and agreed with them a voluntary Code of Practice among their members. If there is any evidence that this Code is being breached, I would like to be provided with same so that I can take it up with the Association.