KATHMANDU, March 21: There is only one week left to supply school textbooks to various districts before the new session starts in April. However, a total of 12.1 million copies of school textbooks are yet to be printed, partly because of the printing of ballot papers for the upcoming local elections.
The state-owned printing house, Janak Education Material Center (JEMC), publishes some 20 million textbooks of Grades 6 to 10 while private publishers publish 17.2 million textbooks of Grades 1 to 5. As of Sunday, JEMC has printed a total of 12 million textbooks while private publishers have printed 13.1 million textbooks. Every year, the JEMC fails to print textbooks for distribution to schools across the country in time.
According to the Department of Education (DoE), the textbooks should have been distributed by March 28 to the districts and subsequently to the schools by April 13.
“The timely distribution of textbooks will again be affected this year, hampering the education of millions of students,” admitted the government officials.
“A total of 12.1 million textbooks of primary and secondary levels are yet to be printed as per the report submitted to the department,” said Devi Ram Aryal, an official at the DoE. “They have assured us to supply the books to the schools by April 13,” he said. “Private publishers can meet the target but we are not sure about JEMC.”
As part of the government's preparation to hold the local elections, the printing of school textbooks has been affected. JEMC started to print 15 million ballot papers from Sunday targeting the local elections scheduled for May 14.
“We have started printing ballot papers from yesterday,” said Mahesh P Timilsina, general manager of JEMC. “But we can still print the remaining 8 million copies of text books by April 13. JEMC will publish 3.5 million textbooks while Sajha Prakashan will print 3 million textbooks. We have outsourced the printing of 1.5 million textbooks,” said Timilsina.
There are around 7.5 million students in public and private schools across the country. Lack of textbooks have had hampered the education of students in public schools in the previous years too.
Earlier, the government used to begin the printing of school textbooks from mid-July for the next academic year, according to the Ministry of Education (MoE). However, this season, it began the process of printing the textbooks from October for the new academic session that starts from April 14.