By Kay-Marie Fletcher

September is here, which means back to school for our nation’s children.
However, with less than 48 hours until the new school year begins, parents are distressed over the increasing prices of books and stationery.
Additionally, acknowledging the plight of most parents, some book stores have reported a drop in sales this year as well.
Guardian Media visited some book stores yesterday and was met with frustrated parents.
Speaking to Guardian Media while shopping with his three children at a book store, one father, Joel Kayton, said, “Every year it is the same thing, books are going up. It don’t go down. It is going up. It’s a real sacrifice parents have to make to send their children to school now. I could feel it for people who have five children, four children. I could feel it because that’s the real book list you are talking about.”
“Some of the things I trying to use back, like their lunch kit and thing. I will clean it up nice, nice and let them use it another year because everything is a cost,” he added.
Guardian Media checked out the prices of books across several book stores yesterday.
The average cost of books and stationery for one Standard Four primary school pupil was $1173.35.
Meanwhile, the average cost of text books only for a Form Four student attending a government secondary school doing six subjects including Mathematics, English Language, Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Spanish was $1,600.
And, a student doing modern studies, including Mathematics, English Language, Caribbean History and Geography, English Literature and Integrated Science came up to approximately $2,000.
These prices did not include the cost of stationery or school uniforms.
In addition to the high prices of books, some parents complained that books are not being used.
Also speaking to Guardian Media yesterday, one frustrated mother, Carlene Isadore, said, “It’s not a problem for me to purchase books, the scenario is children are not using books in school. I bought all the new books for Form One and some teachers never even open the books.”
She said the Ministry of Education should put a programme in place to rent books to students per term, because parents are wasting money purchasing books that are underutilised in the classroom.
As a result, some parents told Guardian Media they have resorted to buying used books only.
Another mother, Christine Mendoza said, “I don’t buy books in the book store really. It’s only if it’s a book that has now come out and the book list demands it. Like right now I’m coming to buy a book because you can’t get it second hand and the book is $150 and it’s a workbook and they may not even use it in school.”
But, purchasing second-hand books has also been proving to be a challenge.
Some parents said they have not been able to find new book editions by used booksellers.
A used-bookseller for 30 years, said this year’s sales slowed down immensely.
And one business owner of a shoe store said she also recorded slower sales this time around, as parents have had to choose between purchasing books or buying shoes and book bags.
And speaking to Guardian Media yesterday, one manager of a book store said she has been receiving a lot of book grants this year.

While at a book store yesterday, Guardian Media observed one mother with four book grants worth $200 each

Courtesy: The Guardian

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