Parents continue to feel the pinch of back-to-school expenses as textbooks increased by five per cent for the second year in a row, the Consumer Affairs Commission (CAC) reported Friday.
The Annual Schoolbook Survey, done between July 30 and August 3, looked at 130 secondary and 32 primary texts across 59 book outlets.
The prices of primary books were similar in price to last year across the board, however secondary texts tended to have significant differences in cost, especially in the Kingston Metropolitan Area, the CAC survey said.
The prices of secondary textbooks recorded an average price increase of six per cent compared with 2011. While most books have seen an increase in the shelf price, a few books will actually see a price reduction, said the CAC.
Secondary level text Principles of Economics (Ninth Edition) recorded the most significant price increase, 64 per cent. The most significant price reduction was 15 per cent for the Secondary level text Caribbean Story (Third Revised Edition) Book 1.
In addition, availability of some books, particularly those in the technical areas, remains a challenge, the survey found.
Only 63 of the 131 books were readily available island-wide 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, Economics, Technical Drawing, Agriculture, Metal Work, Building and Electrical Installation were less available. Primary level books on average were available in 72 per cent of the outlets surveyed while secondary level books were available in 39 per cent of the outlets. The majority of the primary level books were workbooks.
The CAC advised that parents use the supplementary list, which has been endorsed by the Education Ministry, adding that they should also use the National Textbook Rental Scheme or purchase pre-owned texts to cut costs.