Kazi Nafia Rahman, Staff Correspondent, bdnews24.com
Published: 2022-01-23 02:06:50 BdST
The delay in getting the books will hurt their study even more, fear the students and parents. They think the government should have been more careful about timely delivery of the textbooks.
The National Curriculum and Textbook Board, or NCTB, hopes all textbooks will be distributed within a week. It said 9.4 million books were yet to be printed as of Wednesday.
The schools said they distributed the available books in phases to ensure physical distancing, and the rest of the books will be given out once they arrive.
The delivery of free textbooks to students of schools and colleges on New Year’s Day is now known as the textbook festival as it has become a tradition in Bangladesh after the Sheikh Hasina government launched the programme more than a decade ago.
Moghbazar’s Provati High School Stacks receives stacks of new books which will be handed over to students on the first day of the New Year, Dec 27, 2021. Photo: Kazi Salahuddin Razu
The textbooks were distributed in phases at classes without much fanfare on the first day of last year and this year as well because of the pandemic.
This year, more than 41.72 million students are supposed to get over 347 million textbooks.
Timely delivery of the free textbooks was thrown into ‘uncertainty’ this time with the authorities and the printing presses blaming each other for a delay in calling tender.
The printers say the NCTB delayed calling tender and repeated the process, which left them with very little time to finish their job.
The NCTB officials acknowledged the delay in the tender process, but said the printing presses had increased the costs through syndication, forcing the authorities to float the tender again.
Provati High School officials sort out new books which will be handed over to students on the first day of the New Year, Dec 27, 2021. Photo: Kazi Salahuddin Razu
Some students did not receive any book at all, forcing the schools to delay the start of classes.
Pritilata Pratiswik, a student of class nine at Saleha School and College in Hazaribagh, has not received the English for Today and physics books. “No one in my class has got textbooks of these subjects, so we're not reading them. The teachers are giving us lessons on other subjects. We don’t know whether we'll get these or when. Some of us have collected these books and are reading them.”
His father Hasan Ahmed thinks the loss in the children’s learning amid the pandemic will only get worse due to the books arriving so late.
“What will become of their study if it [delay] happens to all the classes? They're yet to get three books. Physics is a new subject to them. A week’s delay may be tolerable, but a month is passing. We still don’t know when they will get the books.”
A student receives her new textbooks from a teacher at Kamrunnesa Government Girls’ High School in Dhaka’s Tikatuli on New Year’s Day on Saturday, Jan 1, 2022. Photo: Mahmud Zaman Ovi
At South Point School and College’s Malibagh branch, the students of English version class seven are waiting for four out of 14 textbooks. “The teachers have started online classes with the old books,” said Noorjahan Islam, the parent of a student.
The students of classes seven to nine did not get all the textbooks at Monipur High School and College, Adarsha High School, Mirpur Cantonment Public School and College, MDC Model Institute, and Little Flowers Preparatory School.
A student of English version class nine at Monipur school said they only got the books of ICT and physical education. “Some have collected old books. I’ve downloaded some pages from the internet. I may have to buy the books if I don’t get them this month.”
Tasnia Haque, a Bangla version student of the same class at the school, said she was short on the books of five subjects. “Now the schools are closed. I don’t know when we will get our books.”
Arshia Ayat Mortuza, a class two student of Mirpur Cantonment Public School and College, did not a single book. Her sister Priyonti Ariya of class seven was waiting for the home economics book.
Shamsul Alam, principal of South Point school’s Malibagh branch, said they were distributing the books whenever they were made available.
Nure Alam, headmaster of Adarsha school, said the authorities had told them the rest of the books would arrive shortly.
Md Mashiuzzaman, chairman of the NCTB, said the problem surfaced after some printing presses failed to deliver the books in time.
“The deadline is ending on Jan 27. The presses will be fined if make a delivey beyond the date. So, we hope the students will get all the books by next week.”
Some of the printing presses were in financial trouble while some others could not work due to a lack of papers when paper mills were closed for a week, according to him.