2.5cr pry textbooks won’t reach students on time

NCTB cites high prices of paper, power outage, work order delay as key reasons
Workers of a printing press in the capital’s Matuail area readying textbooks to be handed out to students on January 1 -- the first day of the new academic year. Like every year, the government will be distributing these textbooks for free among all primary and secondary school students across the country. The photo was taken yesterday. PHOTO: PRABIR DAS

The authorities won't be able to deliver 25 percent of the primary textbooks on January 1, the first day of the next academic year thanks to the high price of paper, load-shedding and delays in placing the work orders.

The delay, however, will not cause many problems as not all students show up on the first day of school to collect all their textbooks, said Farhadul Islam, chairman of the National Curriculum and Textbook Board.

"We are trying hard to deliver the textbooks," he said, adding that almost all secondary books will reach the upazilas on time.

All primary and secondary students are expected to get their full set of textbooks by January 10, Islam added.

Until yesterday noon, 62 percent of 10 crore primary textbooks and 80 percent of about 24 crore books for secondary students have reached the upazilas. 

The books appear to be printed on low-quality papers and have poor printing quality, said teachers of different districts.

"This is because of the global virgin pulp crisis," Islam said.

The paper crisis was a big issue but several printing companies that won the tender for printing primary textbooks did not sign a contract with the NCTB, said NCTB member Moshiuzzaman.

"We have to follow the procedures for awarding the work to second bidders if these printers don't go ahead with the work," he added.

After much delay, the work of printing primary books began on December 1.

However, they could print so many books within a short period as the number of pages of a primary book is less than in the secondary books.

Previously, the government used to distribute free textbooks only at the primary level, which turned out to be difficult for many students belonging to low-income groups or disadvantaged communities.

Besides, printers would often create an artificial crisis by not printing and distributing books on time. In some cases, books used to hit the stalls in March-April or even later that year.

Since 2010, the government has been distributing free textbooks to both primary and secondary students at the very beginning of the academic session.

So far, about 400 crore free textbooks have been delivered for free, garnering praise from home and abroad.

The success has led to significant improvements in enrolment at the primary and secondary levels as well as a decrease in the dropout rates, NCTB officials said.


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