Education Minister Shai Piron announced Sunday that a program that would allow children to receive textbooks from schools and return them at the end of the school year will be expanded. The program will be expanded to include an additional 500 schools, with 1,800 schools participating in the program by next September.
For many Israeli parents, the purchase of textbooks and schoolbooks at the beginning of the school year is an untenable burden. Many parents are forced to buy new books, spending hundreds of shekels on each child's books – and for families with several children in school, the expenses can mount to several thousand shekels. Parents often run book swaps and used book markets on their own in neighborhoods over the summer, hoping to save money on at least a few of the books their children are required to have.
Equally frustrating is the scrambling that parents and students have to go through to find the books, as many bookstores order only a limited number of copies; when stores run out, students and parents are often forced to comb through bookstores in multiple cities in order to find the book they need.
Under the textbook program, the school buys the books and lends them out to children. The budget for the program is around NIS 35 million ($9.5 million), and will not be cut, Piron's office said, after the Minister insisted that the program be exempted from budget cuts. “This is an important program that saves parents hundreds of shekels a year, and enables a greater equality among students, who will be able to open the school year with all the books they need for their classes,” Piron's office said in a statement.