Textbook printing capacity slashed

37.2 million books will be published whereas demand stands at 76 million


ADNAN LODHI January 27, 2024

LAHORE:

The Punjab Curriculum and Textbook Board (PCTB) has decided to reduce the printing capacity of free textbooks by 50%, leaving thousands of public school students without access to government-provided textbooks.

Sources pointed out that the PCTB, facing financial constraints, recently issued a tender for the printing of textbooks with a 50% reduction in capacity, falling short of the demands.

Notably, the printing tender did not include the production of compulsory Quranic books, meaning that students will not receive free Quranic siparas this year.

The PCTB has significantly scaled back the printing of free textbooks this academic year, and the recent tender for the academic year 2025-26 will produce 3.7 million books, whereas the demand stands at 7.6 million books for 36 districts, including girls' schools.

"It's disheartening that no orders were given for the printing of compulsory Quranic siparas, forcing students to purchase them from the market.

Last year, free Quranic siparas were distributed to students, but this year, the facility will not be available, and only 50% of students will receive free books. With only two months left before the new academic session begins in Punjab, it's unclear how the books will be delivered to students on time," expressed a senior official from the Punjab School Education Department.

It's worth noting that last year, free books were delivered with a three-month delay, and this year, a similar situation is expected, aggravating the problem of book shortages.

Read  Textbook shortage to continue next year

“The Punjab government should take notice of this situation, as it will pose significant challenges when books are not readily available,” said Punjab Teachers Union Secretary General Rana Liaqat Ali.

“Moreover, when only 50% of the books are printed, they are likely to be sold at higher prices in the market.

Teachers are concerned about how we will manage the situation this year and cover the course,” he remarked.

A senior PCTB official, speaking on condition of anonymity, clarified that the decision to secure books by collecting them from old students and redistributing them to new students was made by higher authorities.

The official noted that PCTB is not responsible for determining the quantity of required books, as they only follow the orders received from concerned departments.

Teachers have been directed to collect old books from senior students for redistribution to newcomers this academic session.

However, concerns arise as only full course books will be provided for classes one to three, 80% for classes 4th to 5th, and 50% for classes 6th to 10th.

This raises questions about the state of the public education system and its impact on economically disadvantaged students.

President of the Punjab Teachers Union Ch Allah Rakha Gujjar expressed confusion and added, “Teachers, already burdened with additional duties, now find themselves collecting old books, further impacting the education process for students.”

Published in The Express Tribune, January 27th, 2024.

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