Not a single textbook printed for primary schools

Published On: January 16, 2017 01:20 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

Colorful textbooks of grades one and two for next academic session 
KATHMANDU, Jan 16: There is less than a month left for the new academic session to start in the mountain districts but the government has not printed a single textbook of grades one and two yet. There are plans afoot to print colored textbooks of grades one and two for the first time this year.

The new academic session in Manang, Mustang, Jumla, Humla and Dolpa districts begins on February 12. The school textbooks should be published before January 28 for distribution to the districts. The new academic session in rest of the districts begins from April 14.

“However, not a single copy of textbook of grades one and two has been published yet,” said Suprabhat Bhandari, member of the Curriculum Management and Monitoring Central Committee (CMMCC) and president of the Guardians Association Nepal.

The CMMCC issued a seven-day ultimatum on January 4 to the Janak Education Materials Center (JEMC), the state-owned publishing house, which is the main body responsible to print the school textbooks. Though time is running out, the government still hasn't printed 50 percent of the textbooks for the coming fiscal year, according to the CMMCC.

The JEMC and private publishers print the textbooks. However, the JEMC has stopped printing the textbooks under the pretext of budget shortage. The government has not provided budget for printing school textbooks, said the JEMC officials. “The JEMC already has a debt of Rs 1.9 billion and is facing difficulty to print the books,” said an official.
The government allocates about Rs 1.5 billion every year to print the school textbooks of grades one to ten in the country.

A meeting of the CMMCC, headed by Babu Ram Paudel, director general of the Department of Education, includes members for private schools, guardians and stakeholders as well as departmental heads, and was held on Wednesday to discuss the delay of printing the textbooks. 

“The meeting has asked the publishers to submit action plans of printing textbook immediately,” said Bhandari.

In the previous years, the government used to begin the printing of school textbooks from mid-July for the upcoming academic year, according to the Ministry of Education (MoE).

However, it began the process from October for printing the school textbooks for the next academic year, said the officials at the MoE. 

Shanta Bahadur Shrestha, secretary at the MoE, said that the ministry is serious about publishing textbooks. “We have managed Rs 140 million recently to publish the books,” he added. “Printing of school textbooks will not be hindered,” he claimed.

If the government fails to print the books immediately, the school students will be deprived of getting textbooks in time in the coming academic year that starts in mid-April, said Bhandari. “The books should be published within two weeks for Himalayan districts and within 72 days for the rest of the districts,” said the CMMCC members.

There are around 7.5 million students in public and private schools across the country. It has been learnt that the lack of textbooks has hampered in the teaching-learning process at the public school in the previous years too.

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