Thursday, 25 May 2000
Dáil Eireann Debate
129. Mr. M. Kitt asked the Minister for Education and Science if he will increase the grant to schools that operate the loan school book rental scheme in view of the introduction of the new primary school curriculum; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14793/00]
For the purposes of these grants, a needy pupil is defined as a pupil from a family where there is genuine hardship because of unemployment, prolonged illness of a parent, large family size with inadequate means, single parenthood, or other family circumstances, such as substance abuse, which would indicate a similar degree of financial hardship.
A consultancy report, which was submitted to my Department in 1993, dealt with the factors that contribute to the cost of school textbooks. The main conclusion of the report was that book rental schemes are the most practical way of limiting the cost of school textbooks to parents. In the circumstances, at primary level, schools that opt for book rental schemes are allocated enhanced grants in order to encourage schools to participate in such schemes.
In 1999 £2.59 million was disbursed, at primary level, towards the cost of providing school textbooks for needy pupils. The allocation for this year has increased to £2.64 million and a circular has recently issued from my Department to all schools, inviting applications for assistance under the terms of the scheme.
The rates of grant payable are reviewed on an annual basis. This review takes account of factors such as the increasing cost of school textbooks and the need for families to purchase more schoolbooks, should such arise. If the advent of the revised primary curriculum in schools results in additional demands being made on families for the purchase of school textbooks, this factor will be taken into account in the review of the levels of grant to be paid in future years.
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