With only five days remaining for the new school academic session to begin in six districts of Karnali, the Department of Education is set to monitor the stock of textbooks in the region. The new school academic session in these six districts start from February 13 (Falgun 1). Besides, DoE will also monitor stock of textbooks in two districts of Dhaulagiri.
Textbook crisis has been a perennial problem and every year students have to attend classes without their textbooks. But this time the government has directed the concerned authorities, including the Janak Education Materials Centre, the state-owned entity for printing textbooks, to make sure that every student gets textbooks before the start of the academic session.
In rest of the country, the new academic session starts on April 14.
“In the first phase, we are preparing to send teams of experts to Karnali and Dhaulagiri to take stock of situation of availability of textbooks,” said Dev Kumari Guragain, Chief, Monitoring and Planning Division, DoE. More teams will start moving to different parts of the country within this week, she added.
Monitoring teams will also visit different printing presses and JEMC godowns to check the stock of textbooks and their quality, according to Guragain.
A meeting of School Textbook Central Monitoring Committee under the chairmanship of DoE Director General on February 6 had decided to begin textbook monitoring as soon as possible. A report of the first phase of monitoring has to be submitted to DoE by February-end.
JEMC has been tasked with printing textbooks of Grade VI to X. Textbooks for Grade I to V are printed by the private sector.
“But different data provided by JEMC and private publishers have given us ample room to doubt whether students this year will also get their textbooks on time,” said Suprabhat Bhandari, president of Guardians Association of Nepal. Bhandari is a member of STCMC.
“Students should never fall victim to whatever tussles occur between government and private agencies,” he said. “Monitoring of availability of textbooks is a must to clear such doubts.”
JEMC has said it has already printed around eight million textbooks. Private publishers say they already have 1.5 million textbooks in their stock.
JEMC has made a commitment that it will distribute textbooks in Dhading, Nuwakot and Kavre and three districts of the Kathmandu Valley by April 13 and other districts by April 8.
JEMC has to print additional 1.3 million textbooks of Grade VI to VIII and 5.8 million books for Grade IX and X. The total requirement is 19.7 million textbooks.
Private publishers have been saying that they have already printed more than 12.8 million textbooks and that they are going to print additional 7.5 million textbooks in the coming days.
JEMC has been claiming that it has been printing around 65,000 textbooks a day, so eight million of them have already been printed and six million more need to be printed.
Currently, a total of 5,995,715 students have been studying from Grade I to X in community/public schools across the country. There are 1,263,117 students studying in the Eastern Development Region, 1,913,963 in Central Development Region, 103,671 in Western Development Region, 1,060,815 in Mid Western Development Region and 754,149 in Far Western Development Region.
According to DoE, the Curriculum Development Centre has enlisted 21 presses for printing textbooks.
Mid Western 1,060,815
Far Western 754,149