Kilkenny Ógra have called on the Department of Education to look at the scheme currently in place in Scotland where the government provides free school books to children.
“We believe that providing books free of charge to children attending primary and secondary schools would be a hugely positive development and would both enhance educational benefits enjoyed by children and protect the most vulnerable families from excessive costs.
“We in Kilkenny Ógra have also suggested that we would support the means testing of child benefit on the single condition that all savings arising were then ring fenced for schemes such as the provision of free school books for children attending primary and secondary schools.
“Any alteration to the current child benefit arrangement must not disadvantage children in any way and we see this suggestion as being a very progressive one.
“The right to an education is the only constitutional right which each child in Ireland enjoys independent of their parents. No matter what a child’s circumstances are they have a right to an education. The primary objective of any government should be to ensure that this right is respected and any potential undermining of this right, whether it’s due to economic or social factors, should be tackled vigorously. We do not believe that this government is doing enough to protect the educational needs of the most vulnerable sector of Irish society: it’s children,” added the spokesman.
The current economic climate, coupled with government cutbacks in the educational sector, has placed many parents and their children in a vulnerable position.
A recent study conducted by the children’s charity Barnardos shows that many families who have been hit by a reduction in the back to school allowance have also suffered from other consequences of the economic downturn such as unemployment.
This has made it near impossible for many families to meet the basic financial costs involved in sending one child let alone a number of children to school.