Students from grades 1-3 this school year were provided with new books for free, as confirmed by the government. Public schools in Tirana and Durrës, as well as parents of students of this level, confirmed that they received new books for free. During the verification, it turned out that other primary education students, namely the fourth and fifth grades, should be added to the category of new free books, since the recycled books that are distributed for free are unusable and parents are forced to buy them.
A few days before the start of the new school year, Prime Minister Edi Rama announced that this year the second and third grades would also receive new books for free.
“Good morning and with the start of the distribution of FREE textbooks for all 9-year-old public school students – where, in addition to the first grades, the second and third grades will also have free single-use books,” Rama announced through a Facebook post on September 1st.
Prime Minister Rama’s post on Facebook
Regarding this promise of the prime minister, Faktoje first addressed a request for information to the Ministry of Education and Sports. We were interested in which classes have benefited from new free books this school year and how many students benefit from free books.
Request for information sent to MAS, September 4, 2023
As of the publication of this article, we have not received a response from the Ministry of Education and Sports.
Faktoje made an observation at Edith Durham School in the capital on September 5 to see if the distribution of new free books had started for these classes. Notices were placed at the entrance of the school stating that the books for the first, second and third grade are free and new for the students.
“The distribution of books will take place on September 6-7, where the first, second and third classes have new ones, while the other classes have used ones”, the teachers of this school explained to Faktoje.
Mirela, parent of two children at the ‘Kosova’ school in Tirana, says that books have been distributed to young people.
“I have a son in the first grade and a daughter in the 3rd grade. Both have received the new books”, she says.
Parents and teachers of the “Kushtrimi i Lirise” school in Durrës confirm for Faktoje that grades 1-3 have received new books for free.
Meanwhile, for the higher classes, the teachers had started preparing book packages, some new and some used.
However, it seems that the fifth graders are not satisfied with the free books they receive from school, as they are scratched and damaged and therefore they are forced to buy new ones.
5th grade books used
The problem with used books is also raised by teachers, who say that the fourth and fifth grades should also be included in the group to benefit from new books for free.
“I got the books, but they were written, a part torn and you can’t work with these books. I will buy new ones. As for the workbooks, they told us they will give them to us on the first day of the start of school”, says Erik, fifth grade student at the ‘Edith Durham’ school.
“In the later years, at least in the primary cycle, the books are used very often, they are used almost every day by the students and are a little more worn, so the fourth and fifth grades should also be included, as it is the primary cycle that faces this problem. Children eat, dirty the books, scratch, because they are small and very few parents can keep the old books”, argues Gentiana Gramo, primary education teacher.
From the verification, it turned out that there are also schools where even for the highest classes the books distributed for free were new.
Daniel, a fourth-grade student at the 9-year-old “Jeronim De Rada” school, says that he got new books for free this year.
Even the mother of the 6th and 7th grade in the “Kosova” school in Tirana and in the “Kushtrimi i Lirisi” school in Durrës have been provided with new books this year, but they have to hand them in at the end of the school year.
During the 2023-2024 school year, there are 71,000 students who will receive single-use textbooks. In total, in all pre-university education institutions, there are 242,000 students who are beneficiaries of free books, which include used and new books.
In an article published in September last year, Faktoje reported that basic education students would return to learning with used books, even though the 2021-2025 government program provided for the provision of new books for free.
While, referring to the answer from the General Directorate of Pre-university Education, the books that are distributed free of charge to basic education students will be reused for up to three years, depending on the condition of the texts.
Based on the verification carried out and the information gathered, we will categorize the Prime Minister’s statement on the distribution of free new books from the first to the third grade as True.