Free Textbooks: Concerns Over Absurdly Low Print Quality


NCTB has reduced the brightness of the paper by 5 percent. Again, the printers are taking the job of printing books at a much lower price than the estimated price.

This year, the National Curriculum and Textbook Board (NCTB) could not hand over all the textbooks to the students on time. For this, they have started the process of printing next year’s textbooks earlier. However, at the secondary level, the printers are taking the job of printing books at an unusually low rate than the estimated rate.

NCTB has relaxed the condition of printing paper brightness again than last year. Books are being printed on paper with 5 percent less brightness than Gelbar. Although NCTB will save some money, the concerned persons fear that the quality of textbooks may deteriorate. 

However, the NCTB says that if the printers bid less in the tender, they will not be able to do anything. And keeping in mind the paper crisis, the brightness has been discounted.

This time most of the class books are being printed in the light of the new curriculum. In the current year, only the first, sixth and seventh classes of the new curriculum have been introduced. From next year, books will be printed in the light of the new curriculum for the second, third, eighth and ninth classes as well. As a result, there is a change in the number and content of books. However, books will be printed in the light of the old syllabus in other classes.

According to NCTB sources, the tender and evaluation process for printing the primary books is already in the final stage. On the other hand, the secondary work of printing sixth and seventh class books is now awaiting the approval of the ministry. In the light of the new curriculum, the work of writing the ninth class book has not yet been completed.

According to NCTB sources, in sixth and seventh standard, the institution had fixed the estimated price of books per form at an average of Rs.3. But in Class VI, printers gave the lowest price per form at an average of Rs 1 93 paisa. And in seventh grade 1 Taka 79 Paisa. About 6 crore 45 lakh books will be printed in sixth class, and about 4 crore 45 lakh in seventh class.

An NCTB official who did not wish to be named told Prothom Alo that the government will save some money. But the extent to which the quality of the book can be protected is a matter of concern. Because, already a part of the printers are struggling with textbooks almost every year for high profit. At the end when the government tried to collect books quickly from the printers, many printers tried to print books on low quality paper. This time this fear is more. 

According to NCTB sources, last time the brightness of the paper was found to be 85 percent. This time 80 percent has been caught. From past experience, many printers do not properly measure brightness conditions. For example last time NCTB gave concession on brightness due to shortage of good quality pulp (paper making pulp). But they printed books on worse paper than that discount. This time the brightness of the paper is set to 80 percent. Now, as a rule, if you print a book on paper with less brightness than this, the quality of the book will naturally be much worse.

However, a responsible official of NCTB said that they will be more careful this time. 

Question about the number of students

This time around 34 crore textbooks will be printed for more than 4 crore students. Out of this, about 23 crore books will be printed for about 1 crore 67 lakh students in Madhyamik. But the question is, are there actually so many students at the secondary level in the country?

According to the government’s Bureau of Education Information and Statistics (BANBASE), the total number of students in secondary education is a little over 1 crore. Even if madrasa students are added there, the total number is not supposed to be 1 crore 67 lakh. 

There are complaints that such incidents have not only happened this time, but almost every year books are printed showing more number of students. Due to overprinting of large number of books, the government suffers financial loss.

Chairman of NCTB. Farhadul Islam did not deny the allegation. He said, they print books on demand from institutions. Several factors are at work here. First, they do not know in advance the exact number of new students who will be admitted to each educational institution next year. For this, organizations provide demand based on ideas. Again, many educational institutions give more demands for different classes. But by taking some steps, this problem is much less than before.


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