Students of public schools in Kathmandu Valley are preparing for their first-term exam without the textbooks that ran out of stock during their supplies to remote parts first.
Students with laptops and tabs may be using the e-books from the Curriculum Development Centre in place of the printed books, but those without the gadgets are clueless about what to do.
The government-owned Janak Educational Materials Centre Limited (JEMC) had printed and supplied the textbooks and distributed them to schools outside the valley.
Eighth and tenth graders of Vishwa Niketan Secondary School, Tripureswor, for example, have been attending classes and tests without textbooks for health and moral education.
Though all students of the school faced some problem in finding textbooks from the start of the session in May, grade 8 students are attending moral education (ME) classes and grade 10 students are attending health, population and environment (HPE) classes without the textbooks.
In the school, the number of 8th graders is 246 and 10th graders is 271.
Their teachers have requested the senior students to lend their old books to the needy juniors.
“We have requested the students of grade 11 to lend their old books but juniors would be better off with their own books,” said Rajendra Sapkota, a moral education and HPE teacher at Vishwa Niketan.
Teachers are using books from last year’s stocks as they lost hopes of getting hold of new copies.
The principal of the school, Heramba Raj Kadel, said there was a rumour that JMEC was not publishing new books now as the course of study would change for another year.
Teachers, including the principal, call it a negligence of the JEMC.
“The JEMC had given the excuse that printing of the books got delayed due to the local elections, because they had to print the ballot paper first. It’s a huge negligence. It would have been easier if the government had authorised the private publications to print the textbooks,” said Principal Kadel.
AGS, a book store assigned by the JEMC to sell textbooks, said the government publisher blamed high price of printing paper for the delay in printing and supply of textbooks.
“Just last Thursday we went to the centre but we couldn’t get the books. We provided the textbooks to a few of the students of grade 10 from last year’s stocks but got nothing for grade 8,” said the owner of the stationery, Goma Poudel.
She further added the main reason the students are without textbooks is that JEMC has been giving priority to schools outside the valley due to which the valley schools are the last in the line to get the books. “Valley schools are in a shadow under the lamp. JEMC prints books in Kathmandu and sends them to places outside the valley first.”
The stationery requested JEMC to print 200 textbooks to respond to the needs of the students but the centre didn’t budge because the number was too low.
Some public schools outside the valley are also facing the problem – but they are looking for English textbooks.
JEMC denies it all
The JEMC denies its priority to schools outside the valley. Because the books are printed in the valley and the first ones to get the books are the valley’s schools, its officials say.
One reason for not printing the books then, according to the JEMC, is that the books will not be of any use next year.
“Courses for grades 8 and 10 will change the next year, that’s why the JEMC only printed books in number enough to meet the demand placed but if there is a shortage and if schools can give us the number of books they need, we can print them immediately,” said the Information Officer of the Centre, Chitra Kumar Acharya.
According to Acharya, the JEMC printed the needed books and distributed them to the schools in May.
This year 9.8 million books were to be published, he said, of which 95% of the work was over. “The remaining work will be complete in a week or so.”
The demand for textbooks this year was greater than expected and this also resulted in the delay of the textbooks, according to JEMC.
Usually, some books remain in stock every year so to avoid that the centre printed books just enough in number to meet the need.