The level of unnecessary waste involved with changing secondary school books every year is “absolutely crazy”, Shane Coleman has warned.
On Newstalk Breakfast this morning, Shane said he has two children still in secondary school and between them, they have 30 schoolbooks from last year that are now totally worthless.
“[They are] all in good condition and there is absolutely nothing we can do in terms of reusing them,” he said.
“We can’t donate them; we can’t sell them second-hand. There are huge issues, obviously, in terms of sustainability first of all with all these schoolbooks, but also affordability for parents.”
He said he has a number of bugbears with the current schoolbook system.
“[Firstly] workbooks,” he said. “If one page is used, the entire workbook needs to be replaced.
“Why do we need workbooks? Why isn’t there copybooks?
“Why is there no book rental scheme like there used to be in primary schools?
“The other big issue obviously is the tiny changes that happen between editions for schoolbooks. So, it is pretty much the same book, but pagination might be slightly different or there is a different order of chapters which means the teacher can’t say pick question 14 from page 21 – so everybody has to buy a new schoolbook.
“It is insane the amount of waste. As I say, we have had movement in terms of free schoolbooks for primary school but why is nothing happening in relation to this?”
Fellow presenter Jonathan Healy said his recycling bin was “the heaviest it has ever been” last weekend after he was forced to throw out all the books purchased for his child’s Junior Cert last year.
He noted that plans to introduce free schoolbooks in secondary schools could actually make things worse if the Government is not careful about how the scheme is run.
“Norma Foley is talking about introducing free secondary schoolbooks, they must be clapping their hands together with delight at the prospect of that in the publishers.
“If there is ever a free scheme announced, the price goes up by the amount of the grant – not to mention the original cost,” he said.
“Therefore, Norma Foley has to tread carefully here. Parents do need a break but at the same time can we not just enforce the curriculum in such a way that the Junior Cert things can be handed down to the next child coming through the Junior Cert as opposed to ending up in the recycling bin.”
Shane said it is essential that the State doesn’t end up wasting money on schoolbooks in the same way parents have been asked to.
“I mean it is particularly painful for parents, but it should also be painful for the State as well and the State should ensure there isn’t schoolbooks wasted,” he said.
“The bottom line is the books should be able to be passed on,” he continued. “Get rid of the regular changes in editions and do something about the workbook situation.
“It is absolutely crazy.”