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Plan to provide free Junior Cycle schoolbooks detailed

Minister for Education Norma Foley has issued further details of the Government plan to provide free schoolbooks for all Junior Cycle students from this coming September.

The scheme was announced last year as part of the budget.

Minister Foley said that schoolbooks and core classroom resources such as journals, copybooks, dictionaries and calculators will all be provided for all students in Junior Cycle years in schools that are part of the Free Education Scheme.

She said that there will be no need for parents or guardians to buy or rent these items.

Schoolbooks will be the property of the school and must be returned at the end of the school year or the Junior Cycle.

The minister said a special administrative support grant would be provided to schools this year to help them with the roll out of the scheme.

This will be tailored according to the size of the school. For example, in a 400 student school a teacher will be freed up for 13 days to enable them to administer the scheme, with cover for the period paid for by the department.

The provision of free school books at Junior Cycle is expected to cost €68 million this year, the first year of the programme. The minister said funding would be reviewed in subsequent years.

The scheme does not apply to fee-charging schools and digital devices such as e-books are not included.

210,000 students will be able to avail of free school books under the new programme.

The minister said it reflected the Government’s “absolute determination to ensure that costs for parents were reduced, where we can do it”.

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