Under the Department of Education and Science grant scheme funding of just over 7 million has been allocated to 441 secondary and community and comprehensive schools and 33 Vocational Education Committees nationwide.3.86 million has been paid to 2,719 primary schools throughout the country to make textbooks available to their students.
Principal teachers have flexibility in administering the book grant schemes in schools based on their knowledge of particular circumstances in individual cases. The funding is paid to schools in June in order to allow enough time for books to be bought before the start of the new school year in September.
Minister Hanafin said "This book grant enables schools to give practical assistance to those pupils who need it most, where families are experiencing a particular hardship because of unemployment, prolonged illness of a parent or other family circumstances that leads to financial hardship. Having the right books means they can participate fully and take every opportunity afforded to them to meet their potential. Promoting inclusion, participation and achievement of people from socio-economically disadvantaged areas is a priority for the Government."
Minister Hanafin encouraged more schools to operate book loan/rental schemes "Each year financial burden is put on parents to provide textbooks for their children as they go back to school. School authorities have been advised that books should only be changed where necessary, to enable students' work to be kept educationally stimulating and to ensure that content and methodology are kept up to date. For these reasons, the re-use of textbooks by pupils has many advantages."
This school book grant scheme has been in existence at both levels since 1967. In 1997, 3.18million was spent on the school book grant at primary level and 3.14 million at post primary level.
A higher rate of grant is paid to primary schools that operate a loan/rental scheme and also to schools that are included in the Department's Disadvantaged Areas Scheme.
Post-primary school authorities can also use the annual grant for the establishment of book loan/rental schemes. The Department of Education & Science also provides funding to help designated disadvantaged schools establish book rental schemes.