Primary schools already operating book rental schemes are to be allowed to avail of a State funding programme originally established to support the setting up of new schemes only.

Around €8m will be shared among schools, amounting to between €18 and €20 per child, depending on whether or not they are categorised as disadvantaged.

The Government made €15m available in the last Budget.

The funding was originally intended as a support for primary schools that had yet to set up a book rental scheme.

However, schools with existing schemes complained that they were being punished for having shown initiative by establishing rental schemes without special State support.

The Department of Education said 400 schools applied for seed capital under the programme.

However, €8.3m has yet to be spent.

It has been decided to distribute this balance among schools with existing rental schemes.