Sun | Oct 20, 2019

Book burden - Parents urge schools not to ask them to buy texts that students might not use

Published:Sunday | September 2, 2018 | 12:00 AMCarlene Davis
Parents and children check out textbooks at Sangster’s Book Store in Savanna-la-Mar.

Faced with an average two per cent increase in the price of textbooks this year, several parents are urging schools to stop telling them to buy books which the teachers hardly use, if any at all.

According to Sophia McKenzie, while most of the books her daughter will be using this year will be accessed through the rental system at the school, she hopes the ones she has been told to buy will be fully utilised this year.

"Majority of the books me buy last year me have them brand new same way, they did not use them. They are asking us to buy books them not using and wasting money, we could channel that money to do something else," said McKenzie.

"When you put out all the emphasis to ensure that you get the books, and after you get them, you hear that it is not needed, or they won't be needing it now, and then later on you hear they don't use it at all, that's a frustrating thing for me," added McKenzie.

Another parent, Emily, who has three children in high school, has decided she will not buy any book until the child comes home and requests it.

According to Emily, she is erring on the side of caution this year because she learnt from the "mistake" she made with her eldest child by buying all the books at the beginning of the school term and only half were used.

Principal of Edith Dalton James, Orlando Worges, said while he understands the concerns of the parents, teachers are not to blame for this.

"It's not a matter of not wanting to use the books, because teachers would be happy to know that every student in their class has the books, because it would be easier to teach, but when you have a class and less than 25 per cent of that class has access to that book, it makes it extremely difficult for the teacher to teach from that book.

"It becomes unreasonable for the persons who, by virtue of their financial situation, cannot afford the book," said Worges.




He said his concern is that the books are just too expensive.

"Parents shouldn't have to be paying $3,000 or higher for any high-school book. Yes, the Government gives assistance to some, but even then it's not enough to get to the people who need it the most," declared Worges.

President of the National Parent-Teacher Association, Lennon Richards, said the issue of parents being asked to buy books that are then not used by the children is one they expressed concern about over the years.

According to Richards, this is compounded by the fact that relatively new books that could be passed down from student to student are often discontinued the next year.

"The discontinuation of some important books has caused stress on the pockets of parents.

"We believe that parents must not buy all the books at once, but buy when the need arises. The core subjects are different and can be purchased, but resource books can be delayed in purchasing, the only setback is when these books are to be purchased, they are not in stock," said Richards.

The Ministry of Education has announced that for the academic year which begins tomorrow, literature books are being provided for students at the secondary level who are on PATH at a cost of more than $120 million.

It said another $800 million has been spent on books under the National Textbook Loan Scheme and the Primary Textbook Programme.