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Crowe – Cost of sending a child to school rocketing

15 July, 2011 - by Seán Crowe TD

Sinn Féin’s Education Spokesperson Seán Crowe, TD, believes the Government must do more to reduce the average yearly cost of sending a child to school.

Deputy Crowe was commenting after the publication of a survey of 1,000 people by the Irish League of Credit Unions (ILCU) that found, on average, €400 will be spend annually on each child attending school.

He said: “Many parents are struggling to meet the cost of sending their children to school. Uniforms, shoes and schoolbooks are the among the biggest related expenses with books for primary school children costing €125 while the parents of children at Secondary school might have to pay over twice that amount.

“Many parents have to rely on charities like St Vincent De Paul to meet in the rocketing costs of sending a child to school.

“The Credit Union study also found that on average, parents spend €470 for a second-level student and €320 for a child attending primary school. Added to this were the voluntary school contributions they were expected to make, which on average amounted to €130 a year.

“This figures illustrate the serious difficulties families are facing, with many parents running up huge debt in order to dress and equip their children for school.

“Minister Quinn must look at ways of reducing these costs. Nine out of ten parents said in the survey that they would favour the use of laptops and e-books as ways of saving money. Earlier this year the Minister announced that he was to meet with book publishers to raise concerns that the regular changes to text books were unnecessary and more about forcing people to pay out extra money.

“His department should ensure there is a reduction on the number of new editions being published, and schools must also play their part by being more prudent in their book selection for coursework.

“Significant savings could also be achieved if books were ordered centrally through the Department of Education or by schools placing orders collectively instead of individual orders for the same book being made in hundreds of individual schools around the country.

“There should be a return to the more reliable system of children returning books and selling them second-hand to the next class.

“Changes to the School Transport Scheme from the commencement of the next school year will also mean eligible primary pupils will be subject to an annual charge of €50 per pupil, up to a family maximum of €110.

“Where families have eligible pupils availing of school transport at both primary and post primary level, a family will face a maximum contribution of €650 per annum will apply, this will also mean increased financial burden on already hard pressed families.” CRÍOCH

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