School costs 'put parents in debt'
Parents are being forced to take out loans to meet the spiralling costs of sending their children back to school, a charity has said.
Barnardo's children's charity warned books and uniforms are as much as 350 euro for junior infant pupils and can rise to 805 euro for teenagers starting secondary school.
Chief executive Fergus Finlay said families are struggling to meet the costs as prices increase.
"Even for those parents in receipt of the back-to-school clothing and footwear allowance the shortfall between these costs and the amount they receive can leave them struggling to afford school costs," he said.
"Many parents reported being forced to take out loans to meet the costs of sending children to school.
"In the current economic climate education costs are pushing parents to the limit."
Uniforms and school books continue to be the biggest costs facing parents.
Barnardo's revealed one mother had to take a credit union loan to fork out 1,800 euro to send her three children to school in September while her husband is out of work.
"It would seem the only ones benefiting from the costs of the school books are the publishers. We are struggling to get by on one wage with no help from anyone, there is no such thing as a 'free education'," she said.
Mr Finlay called on the Government to ensure grants for school book rental schemes are being allocated and demanded school budgets are protected from further cuts.