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Like the previous years, textbook distribution started on Friday among the students from sixth to ninth graders on the first day of the New Year, reports BSS.

Earlier, prime minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurated the free textbook distribution through a videoconferencing from her official Gonobhaban residence on Thursday.

The book distribution ceremony was held at Bangabandhu International Conference Centre (BICC) in the city.

Despite the coronavirus pandemic, the government has already taken all-out measures to distribute new textbooks among 45 million students of the primary and secondary levels free of cost on the first day of the New Year.

The textbook this year, however, will not be distributed by holding book festivals like every year due to the pandemic.

The books will be handed over among the students at their respective educational institutions in 12 days to avoid any kind of gathering.

Earlier, National Curriculum and Textbook Board (NCTB) chairman professor Narayan Chandra Saha told BSS that generally, prime minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurates the book festival by handing over new books to students at Gonobhaban every year.

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“But this time, the prime minister will formally inaugurate the textbook distribution through a videoconferencing from Ganabhaban on 31 December, 2020 due to COVID-19 pandemic,” he said.

Later, the books will be distributed among the students in educational institutions across the country on the next day (1 January 2021), professor Saha added.

On the occasion of the ‘Mujib Year’, novelty has been brought on the cover of the books this time, he said.

Still images of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, independence, great Liberation War, Language Movement and various development projects of the present government have been printed with captions on the back page of the textbooks, he continued.

The NCTB chairman said cent per cent of primary books have already been printed while more than 85 per cent of secondary books have been printed so far.

The books have already been reached to the schools across the country, he said.

Pre-primary books, Braille method books and books for ethnic students have also been printed, he added.

According to the primary and mass education ministry, the demand of textbooks for primary students in 2021 is 10,25,82,555.

Of those, 2,59,92,671 books are for the first and second grades’ students, while 6,96,97,374 books are for the third, fourth and fifth grades’ students.

A total of 213,288 books printed in ethnic minority’s languages will be distributed to 94,275 ethnic students from Chakma, Marma, Tripura, Garo and Sadri communities from pre-primary to third grade and the books have been printed in five languages.

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This time Braille books will be distributed to 9,196 visually impaired students.

According to the education ministry, in the 2021 academic year 24,33,34,000 copies of books will be printed for the secondary level students.

Directorate of Secondary and Higher Education (DSHE) director general Syed Md Golam Faruk told BSS that educational institutions across the country have been closed since March, 2020 due to the coronavirus to ensure the safety of the students.

“We are trying to reach new books to students across the country on time in spite of coronavirus situation,” he said.

He urged the teachers, students and parents to follow the hygiene rules while distributing books in the educational institutions amid the pandemic.

The director general said, “We will try to ensure that the students can continue their education smoothly from the beginning of the next year (2021).”

Once they get new books, they can study according to their curriculum, he added.

Awami League government has been celebrating ‘book festival’ on 1 January every year in a festive atmosphere since 2010 with the aim of elevating education standard and preventing dropout rates.

In the last 10 years since 2010, over 3.31 billion primary and secondary books have been distributed across the country.