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Battered textbooks jeer at govt’s reuse policy




As many as 425 students of Purano Guheshwari Secondary School of Thankot received equal sets of new textbooks when their academic session began in mid-April last year. 

Those students are now appearing in their final examinations. However, within a year, most of the students have failed to keep the hardcover of the books in place. 
The first and the last chapters of most of the books have torn out, which means that it is worthy only to be sold to scrap dealers. 

But such disrespect for textbooks is hardly limited only to this community school located on the outskirts of Kathmandu. At almost all the public schools across the country, teachers say, the books distributed at the beginning of the session are useless in less than a year.

Every year, government distributes more than 25 million sets of textbook to the public school students across the country. However, by the time the session ends, the books are so battered that they are unfit for the next session. 

As less than 60 percent students receive the textbook within the first two weeks of an academic calendar, the government´s aim to ensure new textbooks in the hands of every school children at the beginning of a new session has not been successful so far. On the other hand, textbooks worth nearly Rs 1.35 billion is sold to scrap dealers every year.
Back at the secondary school in Thankot, the teacher Suman Lal Maharjan mentions that the textbooks are spoilt to the extent that if few students come to the school to get admission mid-session, there is always a crunch of textbooks. 

“Around 35 students enrolled in various grades in the school mid-session this year, pushing us to scramble for books,” Maharhjan added.
The teachers asked students of senior grades to lend the books to their juniors, but hardly few students had kept them safe. There is no clear book policy requiring the students to return textbooks to their school after they advance to upper grades, which is killing the concept of reusing books among students, Maharjan mentioned. 
“It is disappointing that students sell the book to scrap dealers as soon as they take final exams. Perhaps, the policy to distribute textbooks free of cost has failed to develop the culture of caring for the books,” Maharjan added. 

Lack of book policy 

Continuing the past trend, the government is again likely to fail to make textbooks available to community school students across the country as they start their new academic session. 

While the classes are set to begin on April 13, around half of the total number of required textbooks are yet to be printed by the Janak Education Material Center (JEMC), according to the latest update of the government authorities. In such situation, had students saved only the half of the freely distributed books, the crisis of textbooks would not be so severe, the experts feel. 

Though the government has no plans to suspend or do away with the reuse policy, it continues to provide new books every year. 
The government lacks clear book policy to institutionalize the concept of book reuse. One the other hand, it is not clear how to address the disparity issue in classrooms while distributing new and old book.
“It is the psychological issue that every child wants to have new uniform, new books while entering the new session,” says the chairperson of Guardian Association of Nepal Suprabhat Bhandari.

“It is the responsibility of the government to make children feel equal,” he added. 

We can´t turn back- government
Since the government has continued with the policy to provide new textbooks for the last seven years, it is not in the mood to discontinue the policy.
“We only asked the schools to encourage their students to use old books when we did not have enough resources to provide new books every year,” says the director deneral (DG) of the Department of Education (DoE) Lav Dev Awasthi.

Now that the government has enough resources to produce books, it is the foremost responsibility to ensure new textbooks, he added. 
Awasthi mentioned that the government would improve its capacity to print and disseminate books rather than discontinue the old practice. 

Textbook unlikely on time 
On February 23, the monitoring committee formed to ensure timely textbooks, in coordination of the Department of Education (DoE), held the latest meeting on the textbooks issue.
While the JEMC had stated that only around 50 percent of the total required textbooks for the new session have been printed, the around 11.3 million books of the total 22.5 are yet to be printed.

As printing the required number of books within the available time seemed impossible, the JEMC Board on March 10 decided to share the burden with other printers. As a result, Gorkhapatra Sansthan and Sajha Publication were granted the right to print the books. 
However, the DoE monitoring committee has not updated itself about the progress on sending out the textbooks across the country. “We will soon call the meeting for further updates on the work,” added DG Awasthi.



Source- Republica Daily


Published on 2014-03-23 02:37:08

About nirjanasharma

Nepali Journalist.

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