Dáil Éireann - Volume 308 - 11 October, 1978

Written Answers. - County Donegal Free Books Scheme.

502. Mr. Harte asked the Minister for Education if he is satisfied that the £8,200 grant for the free books scheme made by his Department to the Donegal Vocational Education Committee is adequate to meet the needs of qualified children attending schools in County Donegal; the amount this represents per child; if he direct that schools use the same text books for more than one year to alleviate the financial hardship being imposed on parents who in many cases find it impossible to meet the costs of new books each year; and the Government's policy in this matter.

Minister for Education (Mr. Wilson): The free books scheme is specifically intended for necessitous pupils. An allocation of £8,200 was made to County Donegal Vocational Education Committee to be applied for that purpose in vocational schools in its administrative area in the current financial year. I am satisfied that the allocation compares favourably with the amounts granted to other VECs. In regard to the amount of assistance given to each neccessitous pupil, it will be understood that where a committee utilise the money available to make a standard part-cost grant for the largest possible number of pupils considered to be in need, the amount of that grant will naturally form a smaller portion of the total cost in each case than if full-cost grants were made to some pupils or if a higher criterion of need were applied.

[73] In regard to the matter of text books I would like to say that in the case of second level school only a small percentage of text books are prescribed by my Department and most of these are repeated in rotation from year to year, generally in a three-to-four-year cycle. The school authorities are well aware of my Department's view that unprescribed text books should be changed as infrequently as possible.