But there are even bigger headaches for their cash-strapped parents as they must fork out an average of €400 per child to equip them for the school year ahead.
A recent study carried out by the Irish League of Credit Unions found the average cost for a second-level student is €470 while it costs €320 to send a child to a primary school.
Uniforms were the most expensive element of the back-to-school bill for most parents, with the cost estimated to be €229. Schoolbooks cost a further €182.
The survey found almost 90 per cent of parents want to switch to laptops and ebooks in the classroom to save cash, as is the case in Mount St. Michael, Claremorris, where ipads are to be introduced for the first time.
Certainly, ebooks are the learning tools of the future and their use should be encouraged in all schools.
All youngsters are computed proficient and can find their way round a keyboard and computer applications with great ease.
The introduction of ebooks to schools, when the price of ipads fall, will result in students not having to cart heavy schoolbags to class and the electronic ‘books’ cannot be defaced, torn or lost.
The Credit Union survey among 1,000 people in June found that 46 per cent of parents were able to use their monthly income to source back-to-school necessities.
But 54 per cent had to rely on credit cards, their savings or borrowings.
Some seven per cent of parents will be forced to forgo or delay a credit card payment to meet all back-to-school expenses for their children, incurring additional interest charges.
Speaking in the Dáil last month, Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn said he was ‘exploring’ schemes to cut the cost of books by reducing the necessity for editions being revised on a regular basis.
He was looking at the possibility of eliminating the requirement for parents to buy uniforms from specific shops to permit the purchase of generic ‘grey, blue, green and red uniforms’, which can be sold for a fraction of the cost in the large retail outlets.
This is an area which must be tackled as it is ridiculous parents cannot remove school crests from old uniforms and sow them back on to less expensive outfits purchased from multinational retail outlets.
Likewise, school authorities should introduce a school uniform dress code for Holy Communion and Confirmation ceremonies, thereby eliminating the sartorial extravagance some parents go to have their children the best dressed on the day.
Machnamh na Seachtaine
Is doiligh púicín a chur ar shúile seanchait.
It’s hard to blindfold the eyes of an old cat.