Offaly Deputy Barry Cowen has criticised the Government for refusing to open up the school book rental initiative to all schools across the Midlands.
The Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn has confirmed to Fianna Fáil that he will continue to exclude 76% of schools from the new school book rental initiative.
According to Deputy Cowen, Offaly schools have been left ‘high and dry’ as it means that none of the new funding whatsoever will be available to schools in Offaly that have any type of book rental scheme, regardless of how under resourced it is.
“The Minister is punishing the Offaly schools that took the initiative to establish a book rental scheme at great expense to parents, teachers and school management,” said Deputy Cowen.
“I know many local schools that technically have a book rental scheme, but it is only in its infant stages, is significantly under resourced and is not available to all students in all subjects. Many schemes were established on the basis of fundraising, parent contributions and the generous donation of used books. But they still need much more investment.”
Deputy Cowen claimed the Minister has made ‘no attempt to assess the need of individual schools’ further claiming that the Minister ‘does not seem to care whether the existing schemes are in any way adequate’.
Deputy Cowen continued, “How is it fair that some schools will get tens of thousands of euro to establish a book rental scheme while others won’t see a cent, even if their existing scheme is under-resourced?
“When this initiative was announced, Minister Quinn gave the impression that all schools in Offaly and across the country would be eligible for funding to ensure they have an adequate and functional book rental scheme. It’s now become clear that 76% of schools won’t get any funding whatsoever. The Minister is leaving these schools - and their pupils - out to dry.
“What kind of message does it send out to schools and parents who take the initiative to improve the facilities for students off their own bat? Minister Quinn’s actions will discourage such initiative by our schools in the future,” Deputy Cowen said.