Hiccups couldn’t dampen the joy
Millions of school students are starting their new year with the refreshing scent of new textbooks, as authorities all across the nation began distributing the books yesterday.
Primary and secondary students went to their schools braving the morning chill to get their hands on the new textbooks for free.
But the textbook festival, held for distribution at educational institutions, faced hiccups, as many students did not get their full set of books yesterday, the first day of the academic year, thanks to the high price of paper and delays in placing work orders.
Gourab Sarkar, a fifth-grader at Banianagar Government Primary School, visited the Dhaka University playground to join the textbook festival organised by the Directorate of Primary Education. After getting the new books, he was elated.
"I'm really happy to get the new books. I got the chance to see some of my friends, which is great," he said.
Md Yameen, his classmate, had a broad smile. "I'm so happy! I don't have words to express my feelings."
But Gourab and Yameen did not get their full set of textbooks.
Many students of Dhaka and elsewhere in the country complained that they did not get all of their books.
In addition to the paper crisis, several companies that won the tender for printing primary textbooks did not sign a contract with the NCTB, and this has contributed to the delay in distributing all the books, said National Curriculum and Textbook Board (NCTB) Member Prof Moshiuzzaman.
Meanwhile, many guardians expressed their concerns over the quality of paper of the new textbooks.
Tanzina Akhter, a guardian, said, "The paper quality is poor in comparison to books distributed in the last few years. I don't think these books will last for a whole year."
State Minister for Primary and Mass Education Zakir Hossen said all the students will get the new textbooks by this month. Schools across the country have already received 80 percent of the new textbooks.
"Some of the printers could not deliver the books in time because printing materials and paper were not available due to the impacts of the Russia-Ukraine war," he said.
Meanwhile, Education Minister Dipu Moni, while attending a textbook festival for secondary students at Kapasia Pilot High School grounds in Gazipur, said as the government is implementing the new curriculum in phases, the role of teachers will change significantly.
At DU playground, four members of the winning team of SAFF Women's Championship distributed new books among the students.
The government is distributing 35.16 crore textbooks among 4.09 crore primary and secondary students of schools, madrasas and technical institutions for 2023 academic year.
About 2.29 crore primary students will receive 9.66 crore textbooks, and 1.80 crore secondary students of schools, technical institutions and madrasas will get 24 crore books.
Since 2010, the government has been distributing free textbooks among both primary and secondary students. It has led to significant improvements in enrolment at the primary and secondary levels and a decrease in the dropout rate, NCTB officials said.
In between 2020 to 2023, around 436 crore textbooks have been delivered for free, garnering praise from home and abroad.