Dáil Éireann - Volume 523 - 11 October, 2000
Written Answers. - Student Support Schemes.
Mr. Howlin Mr. Howlin
102. Mr. Howlin asked the Minister for Education and Science if he will report on the operation of the book rental scheme; the number of  schools participating; and the level of funding provided by his Department for each of the years since the inception of the scheme. [21461/00]
Dr. Woods Dr. Woods
Minister for Education and Science (Dr. Woods): My Department operates a grant scheme towards the cost of providing school textbooks for needy pupils in primary and post-primary schools. For the purposes of these grants, a needy pupil is a pupil from a family where there is genuine hardship because of unemployment, prolonged illness of a parent, large family size with inadequate means, single parenthood, or other family circumstances, such as substance abuse, which would indicate a similar degree of financial hardship.
Principal teachers administer the book grant schemes in schools in a flexible way, under the terms of the schemes, based on their knowledge of particular circumstances in individual cases.
The means by which such assistance is to be provided by schools to needy pupils – financial assistance, vouchers or provision of books on loan-rental schemes – is a matter for the individual school authorities. Consequently, my Department does not have details of the number of schools operating book loan-rental schemes at second level.
Seed capital grant aid has been provided, since 1994, to schools at second level which are categorised as disadvantaged, which did not already have a loan rental scheme in place, and which gave a commitment to arrange for such a scheme, to assist them in the establishment of book loan-rental schemes. The intention is to provide some specific financial seed support for the introduction or expansion of book rental schemes in individual schools on an annual basis, for a maximum of six years, five years in the case of five year cycle schools. It is envisaged that schools which receive seed capital will be in a position to establish sustainable book loan-rental schemes which, after the initial special assistance, will operate on a self-financing basis where ongoing costs will be met by fee income, which can be subsidised in the case of needy pupils from the general book grant scheme allocation.
The level of funding provided for each year since the inception of the scheme is not readily available in my Department. In 1999, a total of £4,463,000 was allocated in aid towards the cost of school books for needy pupils in second level schools. This allocation included some £430,000, which was provided specifically as seed capital for book rental schemes in disadvantaged schools.
The total provision at second level for 2000 is £4,552,000 from which £165,000 approximately will be made available to disadvantaged schools as seed capital for book rental schemes. The seed capital allocation decreased this year because the majority of the disadvantaged schools concerned have reached the end of their five or six year cycle of seed capital funding.
The allocation at primary level for 2000 is £2,637,000 under the needy pupils book scheme.  Principal teachers decide whether they will operate a loan-rental scheme in their school or whether they will provide individual grant assistance. Primary schools that operate loan-rental schemes receive a higher rate of grant aid.
Dáil Éireann 523 Written Answers. Student Support Schemes.