Students not to get textbooks on time
KARACHI, May 9(Dawn): After an inordinate delay of five months and departure of
two chairmen, the Sindh Textbook Board (STB) on Tuesday succeeded in issuing
allocation letters to the publishers and started procuring paper for printing
textbooks for the academic session starting from August 15 this
Textbooks should be printed by the mid of July and distributed by
Aug 15 among schools across Sindh, but the unnecessary delay due to wrangling
within the department may deprive millions of students of textbooks for at least
two months of their academic year.
The printing process would take three
months and the books could be delivered to students on time if the printing had
been initiated on April 1, reliable sources said.
According to sources in
the STB, the allocation letters had formally been issued to the registered
publishers and a formal agreement between the STB and the publishers would be
signed on Thursday.
Sources said the procurement of paper should have
been started six months ago, but the top hierarchy in the education department
and the provincial government optimistically believed that the work that they
failed to accomplish in the past many months would be 'successfully' completed
before the next academic session. That gigantic work involves many
The initial phase would be pre-press work, which included the
provision of corrected textbook copies, preparation of films, approval of
ammonia, print order and paper permits. Sources said if pre-press work was
completed in two weeks, printing would possibly be started in the last week of
this month which would follow binding and distribution.
The situation is
not as easy as the authorities optimistically believe. The printing of textbooks
require nonstop supply of electricity to the printing presses, which is next to
impossible at a time when prolonged load-shedding has become order of the
The situation, insiders in the STB said, could worsen in the coming
months as many publishers had complained to the STB authorities that forthcoming
monsoon could aggravate the power supply situation.
Even if the textbooks
were ready in two months, sources said, the authorities were not at ease while
formulating a strategy for their distribution when monsoon would be at its peak
and many parts of the province would be facing flood threats.
unlikely that textbooks would be provided to all the schoolchildren before the
commencement of the new academic year," admitted an official in the education
The delay in the procurement of paper and issuance of
allocation letters to publishers is mainly attributed to the education
department's internal strife.
The crisis started developing in January
when the STB chairman Aziz Mehranvi retired and Dr Mohammad Ali Shaikh, who is
Director General (Colleges), was given the charge of STB acting
He was then relieved of the additional charge on Feb 25 by the
education secretary. After him, Mazhar Ali Siddiqui assumed the acting
chairman's charge twice until he was replaced by Shams Solangi, a retired senior
During the musical chair in the textbook board at the top
level, gross violations of rules in procurement of paper were reported. The
situation remained grim despite the provincial education minister's directive
for a final decision on the purchase of paper in a meeting held in March. The
meeting focused on the procedure of implementation of new curriculum for English
and Urdu for classes one and six, Mathematics of classes one and six, and
Islamiat of classes one, three and four, and Science of classes four and
The publishers were asked to prepare specimens for the specified
subjects and submit them to the education department by March 31. However, the
books are still lying with the concerned authorities and have not yet been sent
to the Curriculum Wing, Islamabad, for final approval.
The secretary of
the Sindh Textbook Board was not available for comment.
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