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No reduction evident in back to school costs says Deputy Seán Crowe

24 August, 2011 - by Seán Crowe TD

Sinn Féin’s Education Spokesperson, Deputy Seán Crowe, has said that with the new school term fast approaching the Government is failing parents who are facing excessive bills for uniforms, books and other equipment.

Deputy Crowe said:

“At a meeting of the Oireachtas Education Committee in July, Minister Quinn said that he would exam the viability of introducing book-lending schemes and cheaper uniforms in a bid to drive school costs down for parents.

“Minister Quinn met with the St Vincent de Paul charity and the National Parents Council, two organisations that deal with parents who are struggling to equip and cloth their children for school. Current estimates put the costs at almost €600 when a child is to attend Secondary school, a significant amount of money in these cash strapped times.

“Added to this burden are the voluntary fees parents are asked to pay, annual photocopying costs ranging between €40 and €80, and €100 to €300 for extra-curricular activities.

“There is no doubt that with the implementation of practical measures the financial burden being placed on parents can be eased. For example, the frequent changing of books on the curriculum, particularly the publication of revised editions, is a way of allowing publishers to continue to exploit the system.

“The purchasing of school uniforms is also an issue that Minister Quinn promised to address, particularly when schools advise parents they can only buy from specific outlets.

“Most parents have now bought the uniforms and no real change has been evident this year.

“The availability of school crests to parents doesn’t seem to have happened in the majority of schools.

“Many parents struggling with costs are asking what was the point of the Minister’s initiative.

“It is increasingly clear that Minister Quinn must do more than pay lip service to this issue and he must implement practical measures that will help reduce the unacceptably high costs being faced by families whose children will be soon attending school.” ENDS

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