Tricksters thrive on textbook crisis
Many unscrupulous traders capitalising on the current crisis of textbooks for secondary school students are marketing pirated books in substandard newsprints in a bid to make brisk business much to the chagrin of students and parents.
These dishonest and unauthorised dealers are not only making a dent in the pockets of parents of students of classes VI to IX, they are also depriving the National Curriculum & Textbook Board (NCTB) of its royalty.
Printers at Loharpool under Sutrapur Police Station and Babu Bazar under Kotwali Police Station are involved in bringing out such textbooks in low-graded papers.
The wholesalers do not sell these books in Dhaka; rather they sell them in district towns, especially remote areas, to avert being caught as people in those areas are gullible and can easily be trapped.
Printing cost of Bangla textbook for class VIII authorised by NCTB is Tk 39 while a pirated book costs only Tk 17.
The government has set a subsidised price of TK 35.20 for this book but students have to spend as much as Tk 10 to Tk 15 more to buy both pirated and NCTB authorised books.
As the problem persists with the supply of inadequate number of textbooks in the market printed by authorised publishers, dishonest traders are taking the advantage of the crisis, sources said.
Our Chittagong correspondent confirmed that students are buying pirated books, taking them for original ones, for extra Tk 10 to 15.
"Many wholesalers are marketing pirated books with the help of the latest computer technology in substandard paper and making lucrative business," an authorised printer told The Daily Star, adding that they cannot compete with such cheap products.
“These unscrupulous traders are so powerful that we cannot do anything about them," he said, pointing at the indifference of the NCTB in tackling the problem.
NCTB Chairman Prof M Masir Uddin, meanwhile, told The Daily Star that the board is still unaware of such crimes of duplication. "We will verify the incident," he said.
Even the Sutrapur and Kotwali police stations have also acknowledged their ignorance about the illegal business. Duty officers of those police stations told The Daily Star that they would verify it.
"In fact, the NCTB has its own investigators. It is under its jurisdiction to take any legal actions in this regard," the duty officer of Kotwali Police Station said.
There are 76 textbooks for classes VI to IX in the curriculum under the board. The NCTB was supposed to put textbooks of 38 subjects on the market on January 15 and textbooks of 22 subjects on January 26.
But as of now the NCTB has failed to do so. It began selling only 14 textbooks on January 6.
For this year's requirement the NCTB ordered 291 printers to print 2 crore 62 lakh copies of textbooks for the secondary school students after the introduction of the new question pattern.