Free textbooks distribution: Who was the ceremony for?

Textbook distribution ceremony is celebrated every year on 1 January across the country. This time was no exception. This year the question remains who was the ceremony organised for? If it is for students, they should have received all the books on the first day of the year. But if the ceremony is only a strategy to show off the government’s development activities, then that is altogether a different story.

According to a report of Prothom Alo, books were distributed across the country on 1 January, but students have not received all the books so far. On the very day, it was announced that the students would get all the books within a week or two. Most of the books of many classes did not even arrive yet. The school authorities have not been informed about when the students would get those books.

About 340 million textbooks are being distributed free of cost to over 40 million students this year. Among them, more than 90.66 million books are being distributed in the primary level and around 240 million (238,370,000) in the secondary level. In many places, books arrived but students did not receive those due to various issues regarding distribution. It is unfortunate. Prothom Alo reports, as of 31 January there was no release order for printing or sending over 5 million copies of books of secondary school level at the upazilas.

Books of first, sixth and seventh grade have been designed with new curricula. For other classes, the teachers might continue teaching with old books, if new books are not available. But it will not be possible to continue classes of the three grades without the new books as the curricula have changed.

Prothom Alo correspondents visited various schools in Dhaka, Pabna, Gaibandha, Bhola, Jamalpur, Dharmapasha in Sunamganj and Dighinala in Khagrachhari and also talked to the officials of the education department. They came to know that all the students of all classes did not receive free books by 31 January.

The chairman of the National Curriculum and Textbook Board (NCTB) Farhadul Islam although told Prothom Alo that he hoped that all the students will receive all the books by 31 January.

Every year various problems arise relating to students' textbooks. This time the problem is more serious. On the one hand, there is a shortage of paper, on the other hand, due to starting the book printing hastily at the eleventh hour, the books contain tonnes of errors. The print quality is also very poor.

Several inquiry committees have also been formed due to controversy over some textbooks. If there are wrong content in the textbooks, the students will also learn those. The explanations and remedies rendered by the authorities are unacceptable. It is said that the information errors in the book have been reported to the teachers and they will teach the correct ones.

The NCTB hopes that the books will reach all the students immediately. Besides, those responsible for the delay in printing and distribution of books should be held accountable. Such sufferings of the students every year and the arbitrariness of the authorities cannot go on. What is the compensation for the loss of the one month from the life of the students?