Uncertainty looms over timely distribution
Printing is going on at a snail’s pace
NCTB and printing press owners said not a single copy of books for Class-I and Class-II has yet been printed in any press
Industry Desk: With barely three weeks left to the new academic year, work on printing textbooks is going on at a snail’s pace for various reasons, putting the timely distribution of new books among students into uncertainty.
Press owners said the Directorate of Primary Education (DPE) has not yet returned their security money or performance guarantee (PG) which was due in June last.
Besides, the skyrocketing price of paper has made their job more challenging, they said.
National Curriculum and Textbook Board (NCTB) and printing press owners said not a single copy of books for Class-I and Class-II has yet been printed in any press.
While the NCTB has instructed press owners to print books uninterruptedly to ensure on-time distribution, press owners are citing the rise in paper and raw material prices as the reason for the delay.
A total of 332.8 million books are expected to be printed for the next academic year, according to NCTB and printing press owners.
A total of 96.6 million of these books will be distributed among primary school students, while 238.27 million will be printed for secondary schools.
Over 90 million books have been printed so far, and 70 million have been delivered to upazillas. So far, only 25.80 percent of the required books have been distributed. NCTB sources say 3.6 million books of Class I and II are supposed to be printed. However, no copies of those two classes have been printed.
NCTB Chairman Prof Md Farhadul Islam said that they asked the press owners to deliver books on time to avoid any penalty.
According to the tender, all books must be delivered on time.
“To make this possible, not a single day can be wasted. Despite this, if anyone fails to print the books, we will take legal action against them,” he said.
According to education sector insiders, very few books will be available to students on the first day of the new year. In addition, they fear the books of the new curriculum will not reach students by the end of next month.
According to industry insiders, printing press owners have ceased the printing of primary textbooks, while the printing of secondary school textbooks is progressing slowly.
Fahim Printing and Publications has been contracted to print approximately 1.2 million books for secondary school in five lots, and approximately 1.4 million books for primary school in three lots.
Sixty percent of secondary level books have been printed, while printing of primary level books has not yet begun.
Asked about the reasons for the slow pace of printing primary level books, Shamsul Islam Bahar of Fahim Printing and Publications said the DPE has not yet returned security money or performance guarantee.
Additionally, the skyrocketing price of paper has made their job more challenging. According to Bahar, this has forced press owners to stop printing books for the primary level.
In view of the scarcity of virgin pulp paper in Bangladesh, Zahurul Islam, the general secretary of the Printing Industries Association of Bangladesh, believes that printing books on recycled pulp paper would be an effective solution.
“The issue of printing books on recycled pulp paper was discussed earlier. However, we have yet to receive a final decision on this issue from the ministry and NCTB,” he said.
Furthermore, the price of paper has more than doubled, as have the prices of all raw materials, such as ink and chemicals, Zahurul Islam noted.
“The press owners are exaggerating the situation. They show various excuses at the last minute to use low quality paper in books. We have informed the ministry about the situation and are now waiting for their response,” said the NCTB Chairman.
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