Free textbooks distributed among nearly forty five million students across the country by the government have turned out to be of very poor quality, failing to meet the specifications set by the government’s relevant agency.
Students, guardians and school teachers alike expressed their discontent over the quality of the text books, distributed among students of class one to nine. Guardians and teachers from more than a dozen districts, including those from the capital, Kishoreganj, Sylhet, Sunamganj, Narayanganj, Rangamati, Bandarban, Jamalpur and Natore urged the National Curriculum and Textbook Board to take corrective measures and punitive action against the people responsible.
They complained that the pages in the text books were very thin as the printers used lighter paper than the weight prescribed in their work order, and the text and images in the books were blurry. The contracted printing presses were asked to use 80 grams per square paper and a minimum brightness of 80 per cent so the text books are attractive, durable and bright, according to the NCTB tender.
Many pictures and texts have been misplaced. The binding on many books has come loose, a guardian complained, adding some pages were virtually incomprehensible. ‘The cover pages are barely thicker than the inside pages and in some cases, the covers were made from recycled sheets, the illustrations in the books are faded’ Jahanara Nargis, a guardian from Rampura area told.
The NCTB is responsible for developing education curricula and distributing textbooks for primary, secondary and higher secondary school students. Acting NCTB chairman Mia Inamul Haque Siddiki said they had received many complaints from some districts about the books.
‘We will form a committee to investigate it and ask all printers to replace the sub-standard books,’ Inamul said. ‘If necessary, we will confiscate the 15 per cent performance guarantee the printers deposited to NCTB to get commissioned for the job.’ The government has distributed around 33.37 crore textbooks among 4.44 crore students of primary and secondary schools, madrassahs and technical institutions.
On January, the government hosted textbook festivals for distributing free books to primary and secondary school students. NCTB officials tasked with book distribution monitoring activities said it appears the books were printed on 60-65 grams per square meter paper and low colour tone. ‘Printing companies were supposed to use 70 per cent virgin pulp paper but it seems they did not comply with the criteria. Instead, the printing firms used paper that are made from materials like recycled paper,’ said a monitoring officer at the NCTB.
A NCTB member on Wednesday confirmed they had already received complaints from education officials in different districts including from Kishoreganj, Sylhet, Sunamganj and Narayanganj.
The member said that in many cases officials had lodged complaints with NCTB. ‘Education officials from the districts asked us to take initiatives to resupply better books to replace these,’ the member said. He added that the quality of primary school textbooks and madrassah textbooks were worse than those of secondary school books.
Bangladesh Mudran Shilpa Samity chairman Shahid Serneabat said they had also received complaints about the poor quality of supplied textbooks but placed the burden on poor paper for poor quality of print.