| 9.1°C Dublin

I'm sick and tired of this annual back-to-school rip-off

It's the same every autumn and I'm tired getting angry about it because anger gets us nowhere on this issue.

Every July and August the back-to-school bills hit parents everywhere -- the unnecessary revisions to textbooks, the uniforms that you can only buy from one store.


Now that we're in bad times, the extraction of hundreds of euro per pupil by publishers and the sellers of uniforms with the collusion of the school system seems even more of an insult than ever.

And I know the chances of anything getting done about it are fairly remote. Our Minister for Education, Mary Coughlan, has made it clear she has no intention of addressing this problem. She washes her hands of it by kicking it over to the schools who, as experience tells us, are not going to do anything about it either.


And so parents keep shelling out hard-got money for frequent revisions to textbooks which, if anyone cared tuppence about parents, could be revised by means of a cheap supplement or by putting a few revised pages on the internet for download.

And they pay out for workbooks which are used up after a year and which could be replaced by a blackboard and a copybook.

But the schools go along with it all, issuing booklists which include the new, expensive, revised textbooks.

The schools, though, are complicit in this in other ways. Why should each school require a distinctive and expensive uniform? Why can there not be a standard uniform but with a distinctive crest which parents could buy and sew on to the jacket or top?

Why? Because we parents also go along with it and we do that because we want the best for our children and none of us wants to be the cheapskate who says No.


This nonsense has gone on for decades and nobody has done anything whatsoever about it so far as I can see.

Who could do something?

Schools could. Teachers could. Boards of management could. Religious orders, congregations and voluntary school-owning boards could. The teachers' unions could.

And, of course, our succession of ministers for education could.

I am baffled that none of this lot has, in fact, sorted out these issues and that there is little prospect they are going to do so.

I don't think it's good enough.

But who is listening to parents or to parents' groups? Who, apart from parents, could care less?

That's right, nobody.