Forcing families to buy brand-new schoolbooks for their children every year is “absolutely mental,” according to the Social Democrats.
According to a recent survey from the Irish League of Credit Unions (ICLU), more than a quarter of parents put themselves into debt every year with back to school costs.
School books are the biggest expense faced by parents of secondary school children, with an average spend of €196.
On Newstalk Breakfast this morning, Social Democrats education spokesperson Gary Gannon said schools should provide students with laptops loaded with the e-books they need for class.
“From talking to schools across the board, I think we need to move to more online-based learning,” he said.
“There are some subjects where we can ensure that every child has a laptop in their hand. You can give the student a laptop, you can get it back next year and pass it on to another student.
“It will drastically reduce the cost for parents.”
He said the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for a more digitised approach – and warned that there are now concerns over whether children should be sharing books through libraries or other resources.
“Imagine in a school, a student or a child brings home a book,” he said. “Do you really want that book brought back into the classroom tomorrow?
“And I say that even though I hate the idea of saying we need to move away from using books because everybody loves the smell of a book.”
Deputy Gannon said many publishers release new versions of books each year to drive sales – even though the content is largely the same.
He said it is now time for a conversation about changing the focus from ensuring that every child has their schoolbooks to ensuring every child has a laptop.
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