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Story Highlights

  • Based on a survey of 126 text books in 52 book outlets in the Greater Kingston Metropolitan Area
  • The Statistical Institute of Jamaica recorded an inflation rate of 9.7% for the survey period
  • The prices of secondary textbooks recorded an average increase of 13% compared to 6% in 2012

Jamaicans will pay an average increase of 10% for textbooks this academic year. This is the word from the Consumer Affairs Commission (CAC) based on a survey of 126 text books (82 secondary, 31 primary and 13 infant), in 52 book outlets in the Greater Kingston Metropolitan Area (KMA) and all parishes. The increase is greater than that recorded in 2012 (5%). The average price increase in the KMA was 11% representing a 6% increase over 2012. Within Other Urban Centres, the increase was 8% representing a 2% increase over last year.

The Annual School Textbook Survey, conducted between August 12 and 15 is based on an analysis of price movements. The CAC notes that the Statistical Institute of Jamaica recorded an inflation rate of 9.7% for the survey period, that is, July 2012 – July 2013.

The prices of secondary textbooks recorded an average increase of 13% compared to 6% in 2012.  The prices of primary textbooks recorded an average increase of 6% compared with 2012 where the figure was 4%.

The prices for infant and primary school books do not vary significantly among the outlets surveyed, while for secondary level textbooks, the prices varied significantly and there was more variation in prices of Secondary Books in the Other Urban Centres than in the Greater KMA.  While most books have seen an increase in the shelf price, a few books will actually see a price reduction. The most significant price increase was 97%, recorded by the Secondary level text: WRITING IN ENGLISH: A COURSE BOOK FOR CARIBBEAN STUDENTS (Second Edition) by L. Fields, P. Roberts, Hazel Simons McDonald. The most significant price reduction was 14%, recorded by the Secondary level text: GEOMETRIC AND ENGINEERING DRAWING (Third Edition) by Ken Moring.

In terms of availability, islandwide, 73 of the 126 books were readily available in the bookstores surveyed. Literature novels were generally more available, while texts from the more technical or less popular subject areas such as Home Economics, Computer Science, Technical Drawing, Agriculture, Metal Work,  and Religious Education were less available. Infant and Primary level books on average were available in 83% and 78% of the outlets surveyed respectively while secondary level books were available in 41% of the outlets. The majority of the primary level books surveyed were workbooks.

 

The CAC is urging parents to use the supplementary list endorsed by the Ministry of Education and where possible utilize the National Textbook Rental Scheme or purchase pre-owned books. Parents should also take advantage of price decreases/sales or discounts and if a book is under revision, purchase the most current edition.  The Commission is also urging bookstores to assist purchasers to identify updated versions of books, that they purchase the correct books and sell old stock at lower prices.

At the same time, the Commission is encouraging schools to list only textbooks that are essential and will be utilized by teachers and, where possible, facilitate students who have older editions of prescribed texts.