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Books not distributed despite start of academic year: Political tussle to blame

KARACHI, Aug 11: Confirming earlier fears, textbooks have not been completely printed and distributed among school students across Sindh while the new academic year has already started. The provincial education department is the main culprit responsible for the delay, insiders in the department said.

Sources said the Sindh Textbook Board (STB) had submitted a summary with the top education department hierarchy in January, 2007, for the allocation of printing orders to the publishers. However, it took five months for the competent authority to approve the allocation order, giving too limited a time for the publishers to accomplish the gigantic task.

Insiders said the allocation orders were given to the publishers on May 29, thus a job, which usually requires around five to six months to complete, was expected to be completed within a far narrower timeframe.

"Had the allocation orders been issued to the publishers in March, the work would have been completed in time," said an insider.

Factors responsible

Sources said a dispute between the provincial education minister and the chief minister had mainly caused the delay in the issuance of allocation orders. The summary for the allocation orders, which was submitted by the STB to the education minister, was later sent to the CM House, where it remained dormant till the end of May when the publishers got the orders.

The dispute between the two bigwigs came to an end some five weeks ago when the CM clipped the wings of the education minister and left only college education under her authority.

The dispute between the bigwigs was entirely political, yet millions of schoolchildren in Sindh were the ultimate sufferers due to delays in getting books.

Sources said the publishers were given allocation orders with the directive to exercise haste to accomplish the task. But despite all available resources the task remained unfulfilled as widespread rains, thunderstorms and prolonged load-shedding and frequent power breakdowns contributed a great deal to slowing down the operation.

"So far more than half of the textbooks have been printed and the remainder may be available in September. But it would take a month or two more for their distribution across Sindh," said a source.

Besides, the STB wasted some five to six months in the procurement of paper.

Additionally, 13 new books, the STB said, would be part of the curriculum for this year including English and Urdu for classes one and six, mathematics for classes one and six, and Islamiat for classes one, three and four, and science for classes four and six.

Sources in the education department said that like the rest of the curriculum, the preparation and distribution of the 13 new books was also likely to suffer delays.

"It is quite hard to distribute the new books and the old curricula among the students on time because of various factors, mainly due to our authorities' disinterest in the education sector," said a source in the education department. Dawn
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