INTO calls for book rental proposals rethink

Thursday 09 January 2014 19.14
The INTO wants a rethink on proposals for a school book rental scheme
The INTO wants a rethink on proposals for a school book rental scheme

The Irish National Teachers' Organisation is calling on Minister for Education Ruairi Quinn to re-think proposals for a school book rental scheme that the union says will exclude 80% of schools.

The initiative will get €15m and is only available to primary schools without an existing book rental scheme. 

The INTO says this means hundreds of schools will be excluded, and that those who have shown already established their own rental programmes will be punished.

Maynooth Boys Primary School Principal Peter Coakley said his school will be excluded from the scheme because it began its own book rental programme last year.

Mr Coakley said the school, which has 500 students, fundraised and sacrificed investment in other areas including IT to develop the scheme.

He said: "The Minister has shown a lot of good sense in the past and his track record is good in that regard. 

“So, I would hope that the minister would review this whole proposal, revise it.  All schools must be included, there must be equality and fairness in the scheme."

Mr Quinn said he is open to representations from parents who are concerned that their child's primary school has been excluded from the new scheme. 

He said the initiative was "a slight bit arbitrary" but that it was not intended as a "slap in the face" to schools.

"They are not being punished, they are being saluted. I regret that other schools didn't have the same initiative, but maybe for whatever reason, it wasn't possible to do. But that shouldn't prevent young people from getting access to a book rental scheme."

Funding of €7m annually is still available to all schools, however teachers say this equates to roughly €11 per child.

"This is now levelling the playing pitch. Is it a slap in the face for those who went out first? No, it is not. Is it an indictment of people who didn't put one in place already? No, its not," the minister said.

"It is a response to the concerns expressed to me by parents about the cost of sending their children to school. It is not a reflection on the schools themselves."

Mr Quinn said he was open to hearing representations from the National Primary Parents Council if parents were concerned that their school has been excluded from the scheme.

"If there are gaps in the system... if schools that already have a rental system that is weak or needs to be topped up then I would certainly be open to looking at it."