Senator Jimmy Harte has welcomed news that school-book rental schemes will be extended to every primary school in Donegal, following an announcement in Budget 2014.
“At present, the average costs to parents in Donegal for primary school books is between €60 and €80. This figure could drop to as little as only €20 as a result of the decision in the Budget to extend school-book rental schemes to every primary school in Ireland.
“Back to school costs have been increasingly punitive for local families in recent years, with the problem of book and uniform costs being particularly acute.
“I am pleased the Labour Party has taken decisive action in Budget 2014 to reduce the cost of school books by rolling out this scheme on a national basis, while we are also working on new proposals to give parents a say in the costs of school uniforms.
Each year, €15 million is provided to Irish schools to invest in school books.
“We believe that schools should use this funding to establish book rental schemes, and reduce the costs to parents. However, the latest figures show that 24% of primary schools in Ireland do not currently operate book rental schemes, despite the fact that such schemes can make a big difference to household budgets.
“That is why the Labour Party has moved in this Budget not only to protect current funding levels for existing school book schemes, but to provide a further €5 million for each of the next three years so that book rental schemes can be delivered in all primary schools. I look forward to the effects of this very positive initiative being passed onto families in the locality when the new school term begins next September.”
Meanwhile, Labour Minister Ruairi Quinn also confirmed in the Budget his intention to recruit an extra 1,400 teachers, and to protect class sizes for the third year running.
“This comes despite immense pressure to make savings in his Department. This is in contrast to Fianna Fail who increased the pupil teacher ratio in 2009.
“The Labour Party, by comparison, has protected class sizes, and recognises the huge sacrifices made by families since the financial crisis took hold. Our ministers fought hard in this Budget to ensure that families receive tangible supports so they could feel the difference in their everyday lives and personal circumstances.
“The introduction of free GP care for children aged five and under, further underlines our commitment to help hard-pressed families, especially those who pay for everything but qualify for nothing.”