A replenished stock of schoolbooks is on its way as a replacement for the stock that has diminished, according to Health Minister, Nickolas Steele.
Speaking to reporters at the weekly post-Cabinet press briefing, Minister Steele said that the ruling New National Party (NNP) administration wants the public to be aware that there has been no change to the free school books programme initiated in 2008-13 by the previous Congress government.
The Keith Mitchell-led NNP regime has been accused of abandoning the free schoolbooks programme after returning to power following its 15-0 victory over the National Democratic Congress (NDC) in general elections held in February 2013.
Prime Minister Mitchell has often advocated a policy in which those parents who can afford should be allowed to purchase schoolbooks for their children.
Minister Steele disclosed that the new shipment of books will be on island by September.
“On the schools books issue, I want to reiterate that there has been no change in policy with respect to the school books that the Ministry of Education is in the process of replenishing the stocks of schools books”, he said.
“The replenishment supplies, I am told will be arriving in early September and will be distributed throughout the various schools to those who need in the month of September. That process has started, it’s a re-evaluation, constant process of replenishment and evaluation of criteria for those who need the support,” The senior government minister stated that some books were not returned by students and where returned were found not to be “in proper condition”.
The former government had a policy in which students had to pay for books damaged.
According to Minister Steele, government is seeking the cooperation of all involved to ensure that the situation with damaged books does not reoccur.
“We seek the co-operation of all involved, teachers, principals, parents and students to make sure that the books that are being restored are returned and are in the possession of individuals (and) that they are kept in good order. It minimizes the cost on the nation as a whole in the replenishment process that we are now going through and have to consistently go through that allows us to provide more to more individuals if the cost of replenishment is less.
“To reiterate there is no change in (the free schoolbooks) policy.
The replenishment process has started and is well on the way – books have been ordered, and books will be distributed in September before school starts and during September as replenishment stocks arrive on island.
“Books are going to be a bit late, and not on the week of School because of the reprinting and some of them are out of stock in the order and there is a certain timeframe for the printing of it.