Fri | Oct 19, 2018

Parents feel added burden with increase in textbook prices

Published:Friday | August 24, 2018 | 12:00 AMSyranno Baines/Gleaner Writer
Parents to pay more for textbooks this year

The nation's parents have been advised to expect an overall two per cent increase in textbook prices when they flock to bookstores across the island this weekend. But the advisory is no solace for parents who have been feeling the back-to-school strain for weeks now.

"You may hear two per cent and think it's not a lot, but every dollar counts when prices are going up, but your pay stays the same," asserted Nicole Jones, the mother of two preteens, in reacting to the latest Consumer Affairs Commission's (CAC) Annual Textbook Survey.

According to the CAC, it surveyed the prices of 133 popular textbooks across 90 retailers between July 23 and 27.

The agency said that textbooks surveyed consisted of 90 secondary-level, 30 primary-level, and 13 infant-level textbooks covering 17 subject areas.

It stated that of the 90 bookstores visited, 26 were located in the Greater Kingston Metropolitan Area (Kingston, St Andrew, Portmore, and Spanish Town in St Catherine) and 64 from other urban and rural towns of all parishes.

The islandwide price observations showed that on average, a primary school text costs $1,566.73 but can rise as high as $3,010.00, a figure that "frightens" Jones.

"One of my children is at primary school and the other attends prep school as he requires a different, more focused kind of setting, and with the fees, lunch money, uniform, it's no cakewalk even though I'm meaningfully employed," she related.

"I encountered a similar price when I went to do checks earlier in the summer, and I was in shock really, and next year is the same increase, or more, with no near end in sight because my children are young," she contended.

Sharon Whittaker, whose daughter is entering sixth form at a prominent Corporate Area high school in September, shared Jones' view.

Price observations from the survey indicate that Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE) and Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) textbooks average $3,578.36 but can go up to $9,000.

"It (survey) not making me any wiser because I see books going for all $8,000 plus tax from last month," said Whittaker. "Those prices will keep up any single, hard-working parent late at nights."

syranno.baines@gleanerjm.com

 

FINDINGS FROM CAC - ANNUAL TEXTBOOK SURVEY

Infant schools

Average cost $1,224.95 observed in 62 per cent of stores surveyed.

The most expensive book costs $1,676.00.

The least expensive book costs $450.00.

Prices increased approximately five per cent.

Primary schools

Average cost $1,566.73 observed in 64 per cent of stores surveyed.

The most expensive book costs $3,010.00.

The least expensive book costs $1,045.00.

Prices increased approximately four per cent.

High schools: Grades 7-9

Average cost $1,795.85 observed in 39 per cent of stores surveyed.

The most expensive book costs $4,550.00.

The least expensive book costs $500.00.

Prices increased approximately four per cent.

CSEC/CAPE

Average cost $3,578.36 observed in 23 per cent of stores surveyed.

The most expensive book costs $9,000.00.

The least expensive book costs $700.00.

Prices decreased approximately one per cent.