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Gary Gannon TD

Clarity on guidelines urgently needed to avoid risk of book shortages in classrooms in September

The Minister for Education must immediately outline how the Government’s free books scheme for primary schools will operate to avoid classroom chaos next September, according to Social Democrats TD Gary Gannon.

Deputy Gannon, who is the party’s spokesperson on Education, said:

“Up to 540,000 pupils around the country are supposed to benefit from free schoolbooks this year, with almost €50 million allocated to the scheme in the budget. The measure is intended to provide some badly needed relief for parents who are struggling to get by as a result of the cost-of-living crisis.

“However, it now appears that school principals have been left in the dark as to how the scheme will operate in practice, with guidelines not expected to be finalised until Easter. This has created major uncertainty for schools and led to fears that there could be book shortages when the new term begins in the autumn.

“Yet again, we have a case of the Government making headline-grabbing announcements without proper plans being first put in place. This is the same ham-fisted approach that led to the free school bus scheme fiasco, when the Department of Education over-promised something it couldn’t realistically deliver on.

“Principals and teachers fully deserve to know how the implementation of the free books scheme will impact on their time and school resources. The Minister and her department seem intent on continuing this Government’s pattern of poor communication with key stakeholders in the education sector.”

March 15, 2023

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