Free doesn't make it (a) good (deal)
The Free School Books Act (in Dutch: de Wet Gratis Schoolboeken (WGS)) was introduced in 2008 with two objectives: reducing school costs for parents and increasing competition on the market for learning materials. SEO Amsterdam Economics and Oberon studied the effects of the act on request of the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science.
- The total costs of learning materials remain limited as a result of budget constraints imposed by secondary schools. This is achieved by purchasing fewer additional materials and limiting investments in innovation.
Based on this study, various recommendations have been made to improve competition on the market for learning materials. These include improving the transparency in the market, reassessing the scope of the WGS and exploring ways to improve the functioning of the Public Procurement Act. For the future it is particularly important that all market players manage to deal with (the threat of limited competition in) a further consolidated market of one-stop shops: all-in-one offers by suppliers which exclude competition and possibly hamper innovation.
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Djoerd de Graaf
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