The House of Representatives, Education and Health Committee has again directed the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology to introduce the Federal Education Act in the parliament at the earliest and to prevent the shortage of school-level textbooks. Committee president Jayapuri Gharti issued this directive to the Ministry today after discussing the matter with the education Minister Devendra Paudel, the Ministry secretary Yadav Koirala, managing director of the Janak Educational Materials Centre Limited, Anil Jha among the related officials in the meeting of the Committee.
The Committee members had drawn the serious attention of the government and the officials concerned regarding the unavailability of all the school-level textbooks even after the passage of two months since the start of the school new session. Before this, the Committee had on May 25 issued directives to the bodies concerned to produce and distribute the textbooks on time even by making alternative arrangements so as to avoid the shortage of school textbooks in the forthcoming academic session through coordination among the federal, and provincial and local governments regarding this.
At present, the private printing presses have been given the responsibility of printing the textbooks from Grade 1 to 3, and the JEMCL the textbooks of grades 4 to 10. Education Minister Paudel briefed the committee meeting that he has been following up the matter with the JEMCL every day so that the students get the textbooks free of cost and also telling the bodies concerned to address the problem if the shortage of textbooks was found after taking information on the textbook availability from various sides including the districts.
He said although the private sector printers have informed that they can print the textbooks for all the classes, the JEMC under the government's ownership has been given the main responsibility for this by adding a printing machine thinking that doing so would be appropriate. Man Bahadur Bishwokarma, Yogesh Bhattarai, Sarita Neupane, Jeevan Ram Shrestha, Hit Bahadur Tamang, Anjana Bishankhe and Jagat Bahadur Bishwokarma among the lawmakers urged the government to take steps for a reliable, alternative and long-term solution of the problem and to carry out administrative and managerial reforms in the JEMC.
It is a matter of shame that there is always a shortage of school textbooks every year, they said. Managing director Jha told the meeting that the book printing has been delayed as the demand for textbooks has far exceeded the supply and there is a shortage of printing paper. He added that only five percent of the targeted number of textbooks remained to be printed now.
Minister Paudel said the draft of the Federal Education Act and four other education-related bills have been prepared and sent to the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Law, Justice, and parliamentary Affairs among the various bodies for their feedback, but these bodies have not given their opinion and feedback in time, hence the delay in tabling the bills in the parliament. He urged the Committee, the media, and all sides to extend cooperation for bringing the bills on time.