Free school books for primary school students in Budget education package

The State will offer free schoolbooks to all primary school children from next September, under an initiative to be announced as part of tomorrow’s Budget.

Education Minister Norma Foley is expected to officially announce the school books plan tomorrow and will also confirm a 1-point reduction in the average pupil-teacher ratio to 23:1. 

It will be the first time in Ireland’s history that the State has covered the cost of textbooks, and it will bring Ireland into step with many other nations across the world as well as other European nations.

The Department of Education reports that the programme will get €47 million as part of Budget 2023; however, the policy is meant to be permanent and ongoing.

The move follows a pilot scheme that has run for the past two years which provides free schoolbooks to children attending some of the country’s most disadvantaged schools.

The State has also funded a basic annual book grant for all schools, to help cover the cost of book rental schemes.

Responding to the news this morning, chief executive of the Children’s Rights Alliance Tanya Ward said free school books will make a real difference to many children.

“Free school books was a big part of the #NoChild2020 campaign. The government committed to a pilot then. This Budget will make it national so all children can benefit,” she tweeted. 

However, the cost of books has remained a significant part of the financial burden faced by the families of school-going children, with the charity Barnardo’s estimating an average annual outlay of €110 per primary school child.

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