Free school books would cost €12 million, National Parents Council estimates

Providing secondary school students with free textbooks would cost around €12 million, the National Parents Council estimates.
James Wilson
James Wilson

15.43 16 Aug 2022

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Free school books would cost €...

Free school books would cost €12 million, National Parents Council estimates

James Wilson
James Wilson

15.43 16 Aug 2022

Share this article

Free books for secondary school students in Ireland would cost the state around €12 million a year, the National Parents Council Post Primary estimates. 

As the countdown to the new school year continues, the organisation says that schools should provide textbooks free of charge like authorities do in Northern Ireland.

“It’s difficult to do the exact sums on that because the books change so regularly,” Paul Rolston, the organisation’s Communications Director told The Pat Kenny Show. 


“But if you take an average of 60,000 students in a year group and you multiply that by an average cost of school books which is at least €100 - that’s €6 million. 

“So you do that by maybe three times in a year where the books may change or three times in a cycle - certainly twice for junior cycle and senior cycle - that’s €12 million. 

“Those kind of numbers are not huge within the context of the whole education budget and certainly would be massively helpful to individual parents.” 

With the cost of living soaring, the organisation has also called for the end to so-called ‘voluntary contributions’ which Mr Rolston described as “not voluntary at all in most instances.” 

“We’re aware that the schools require them often just to put the education facilities in place,” he described. 

“But the big issue that we would have with them is where they’re restricted access to items where a parent cannot pay these. 

“Like restricted access to lockers, restricted access to activities within the school and immediately that means that the child is identifiable because the parent cannot pay. 

“So we would ask all schools to please be very cognisant of that - particularly coming in after COVID.” 

Presentation College Carlow A student flicks through a book in a school library. Picture by: Ben Birchall/PA Archive/PA Images

'There’s nothing cheap anymore'

Speaking to Newstalk, a number of parents said that they found the return to school an exceptionally expensive time: 

“Big price hike in books, uniforms, everything basically,” one mum complained. 

“The uniform as you know is all crested, so everything has to be bought from a specific shop. So there’s no way to shop around where you can get the cheapest one.” 

Another mum described things as “ridiculous”: 

“All in all [I’ve spent] €650,” she recalled. 

“There’s nothing cheap anymore. Even the cost of living is ridiculous as well. So trying to fit all that in with the cost of living on top of it is just mental.” 

Photo Mark Stedman/ School uniform shopping. Photo Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

While another said that she things weren’t so bad because her son did not have to wear a uniform: 

“I’ve been okay because my son is going to Educate Together,” she explained. 

“So I basically just need to pay for the contribution fees and a book rental scheme. 

“But we don’t have to pay for a uniform which is massively helpful. My niece is going to a secondary school and she has to pay 60 euro just for her school jacket. That’s very expensive for my sister.” 

The increased cost of sending a child to school is something the Government is aware of and last month Minister Heather Humphries announced the Back To School allowance would increase by €100.

Main image: School children with books. Picture by: PA. 

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