School book rental can be one of the solutions to help cutting the expenses of children's education in Ireland
The term 'free education' has lost its literate meaning a long time ago and nowadays every parent is aware of the fact that the education of their children generates various kinds of expenses. Parents in Ireland agree that sending a child to school brings significant changes in the household budget. However the situation has worsened in the recent years, mostly because of the income reductions. Surveys show that more and more families get into debts every year to pay for their children's school books, uniforms and other education expenses.
Buying all the school books every year seems to be the biggest concern for the parents. The cost of the full set varies depending on the stage of education and reaches even €500 in a fifth year of the second-level. In many cases it is not possible to get second-hand books or pass them onto siblings as there are new books introduced every year and schools usually want to use the newer ones. 'It is said we have the most expensive school books in Europe. […] The cost of school books is a serious problem for those parents on low and modest incomes.' says deputy Eamonn Maloney. He supports Education Minister Ruairi Quinn who thinks that introducing rental schemes in schools could be an efficient solution that would save up to 80 percent of the parents' costs. Minister Quinn has issued guidelines to help the schools establish and run rental schemes, and a parents' guide to inform them on how they would be able to participate in establishing and financing the schemes.
The initial plan suggests that year by year schools would buy the books, first only for certain subjects, later for all of them. All the students would have access to these books, for free. Parents would possibly be expected to pay some small fees, but only at the point when all the books are already provided by schools, and parents don't have to buy any of them on their own. 'These changes and the introduction of this scheme will especially benefit those on low incomes' Maloney says. 'It is important that there is fairness and equality, particularly at primary level and that no child should be denied access to school books. I therefore congratulate the Minister on the introduction of this scheme as I know it will benefit many low income families who up to now have struggled to provide the required school books for their children.'