Free schoolbooks for all Portuguese pupils: Government takes first steps

It is a huge undertaking and one that can only go ahead in phases. Thus, from the beginning of the next academic year, 95000 primary schoolchildren will embark on State education with textbook manuals paid for by the government.

As for a future where all schoolbooks will be either free or recycled, the PCP communist party proposal is set to see a “working group” formed to come up with a timetable to be completed by the end of the current legislature.

This first step – exclusive to 1st year pupils – will cost the government “around €3 million”, said a statement from the ministry of education, while the man in charge, Tiago Brandão Rodrigues, has confirmed that the ministry is “already in negotiations with publishers” to ensure “progressive reduction” in the price of schoolbooks, leading to their eventual free distribution.

The national confederation of parents’ associations has called the news “positive” but does not appear to be turning cartwheels.

“There are other large expenses (for parents) like art materials and sports gear, transports and meals”, said president Jorge Ascenção. “We should not put all our eggs in one basket”.

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