The State is to provide free schoolbooks to all primary school children from next September, under an initiative to be announced as part of tomorrow's Budget.

It will be the first time in its history that the State has assumed responsibility for the cost of schoolbooks and will bring Ireland into line with other European countries as well as many others across the globe.

According to the Department of Education, €47m is to be allocated to the initiative as part of Budget 2023, however the measure is intended as a permanent ongoing one.

The move follows a pilot scheme that has run for the past two years which provides free schoolbooks to children attending some of the country’s most disadvantaged schools.

The State has also funded a basic annual book grant for all schools, to help cover the cost of book rental schemes.

However, the cost of books has remained a significant part of the financial burden faced by the families of schoolgoing children, with the charity Barnardo’s estimating an average annual outlay of €110 per primary school child.

Tomorrow's Budget will also see a further one point reduction of the primary pupil to teacher ratio, according to the Department of Education.

It will bring the ratio to 23:1 pupils per teacher.

This will be the third year running that the ratio has been reduced.

Labour has welcomed the measure, with education spokesman Aodhán O'Ríordáin saying he would not criticise the minister "if she does exactly what he had asked her do".

Speaking on Drivetime, he said that he had "been talking about this for about five years," adding that the money to do so was not there when two previous Labour education ministers were in office.

"School books are free in Northern Ireland. If you're from the North and come to live in the Republic, you can often be a bit confused as to why you have to pay for schoolbooks.

Fianna Fáil TD Cathal Crowe cautioned that praise and criticism of the move was premature, and that people must wait to hear what is actually announced.

"This is one of the greatest costs that parents face every August - trying to kit out their kids in uniforms and schoolbooks - and if we can alleviate that cost, I think that would be really welcome.

He said it is not known yet if the announcement will be limited to free primary schoolbooks, adding that the way books were published also needed to be looked at.

"There's a lot of publishers in Ireland who bring out revised editions every year, a few lines changed in it, and then you have to buy a whole new set of books all over again.

"A lot of schools now have digital books so it requires people to buy iPads and licences to come with it, so Minister Foley has looked at all of this comprehensively over the summer, along with alleviating the cost of school transport, she felt that this was a measure to bring forward in the Budget and I hope it will be confirmed tomorrow."