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textbook deadline : New session near; JSSK grapples with printing

KATHMANDU, DEC 19 - Consistently missing deadlines seems to be a habit for the Janak Sikshya Samagri Kendra (JSSK) that prints school textbooks for the Central, Mid-Western and Far-Western Development regions.

The sole authority for publishing the books may not be able to print the books on time, this year too.

With barely four months in hand for the new academic session to begin, JSSK has hardly printed six million units so far, a mere 30 percent of the target.

Based on the sales for the current academic session, the JSSK has set a target of 19.5 million units for around 6.1 million students of community schools across the country.

The JSSK sets the target for a new year by adding 10 percent to last year’s sales. It has increased its target only slightly this year as the

government has revised the curriculum for grade six as envisioned by the School Sector Reform Programme. Sales normally soar when there is a change in he curriculum.

Three months after it started printing the books, a mere six million units, including around two million from last year’s stock, are ready for shipment, while 13.2 million units are yet to be readied.

Despite the JSSK claim that it has been readying around 50,000 units of books every day, an inspection carried out by the Department of Education (DoE) last month found that just 24,700 units are printed every month.

Even if the JSSK doubles its pace, it is likely that there will be a shortfall of around five million units this year.

“The target is unlikely to be met even if JSSK works in its full capacity,” said Ram Sharan Sapkota, deputy controller at the DoE. The academic session in the Karnali region, Manang and Mustang starts from mid-February and from mid-April in the rest of the country.

However, JSSK officials claim that they will work 24 hours a day to meet the target. “Currently, we are running our machines for 12 hours a day and we are planning to start work for 24 hours to make the books available before the start of the new academic session,” said Arjun Kunwar, the marketing manager at the JSSK.

According to Suprabhat Bhandari, chairperson of the Nepal Guardians’ Association, and member of the central level textbook monitoring team, around 130,000 units of books have to be readied a day to meet the target. The JSSK, however, cannot print more that 85,000 units a day as it also has to use its security press to produce question papers for the SLC examination. The JSSK has been missing the target for the past four consecutive years, ever since the government announced free textbooks for students up to grade 10.

A DoE report shows that only 54 percent of the students have access to the textbooks by the beginning of the academic session. Citing this reason, donor agencies have been building pressure on the Ministry of Education to hand over the publication rights of school textbooks to the private sector across the country.

Posted on: 2012-12-20 08:20

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