By Dayo Adesulu
IT is worrisome that pupils in nursery and primary schools can no longer transfer textbooks they previously use to their siblings, as such textbooks have been programmed for questions which must be answered with either a pen or pencil on the same textbooks. The cost of the nine textbooks in this category run into thousands of Naira.
Parents who spoke with Vanguard are saying, ‘It is a calculated effort by school owners to ensure that new textbooks are bought every year for each child in the school to make more money. Our findings show that for years, private school owners are responsible for the sale of books to each pupil. It has never been tolerated by any private school for parents to buy books outside the school for their children. In many schools, cost of textbooks and notebooks are calculated and added to tuition. Lamenting this unnecessary recurrent expenditure, parent s said: ‘’ This was unlike in the olden days where a family of five could make use of the same textbooks from primary one to six.”
Books can live thousands of years
According to Brian Collier, a United State Librarian, a book can live for thousands of years.
He explained that new books are printed on acid-free paper designed to last much longer than people live, stressing that if they are kept in a climate controlled building and not abused, they could easily live thousands of years.
He said: ‘’Books live a long time if we leave them alone, adding, ‘’the average lifespan of print editions probably falls outside the span of years when the book is part of the library collection, unless it is in a research library collection, in which case the lifespan may be centuries or millennia.”
Vanguard investigation shows that for over a decade, 9 textbooks out of the 18 textbooks parents buy for each child have been conditioned to be useless to their other siblings after a class.
The nine textbooks that cannot be used by any other siblings include; Quantitative Reasoning, having 134 pages, Verbal Reasoning, 121 pages, Mathematics, 180 pages, English Language, 221 pages, Now Easy Grammar and composition, 49 pages, Vocation Aptitude, Mental Mathematics for Primary Schools, French (Ga y est) and Foundation of Basic Science and Technology. Our findings revealed that in some schools all those 9 textbooks cost N11,100 for Basic 1. The cost varies from Basic 1 to Basic 5, as each school is allowed to fix the prices of those textbooks without any parent given opportunity to negotiate the cost.
Speaking with Vanguard, the President of National Association of Proprietors of Private Schools in Nigeria, Dr. Sally Adukwu-Bolujoko exonerated other States of the federation from the deal, adding that the development was only peculiar to the South-West.
She said: “When I went to school in the 50s during the colonial era, we had about four textbooks with hardcover that were used by my siblings. ‘’The situations where textbooks cannot be transferred to other siblings are only found in the South-west. ‘’We don’t have those nine books in the Federal Capital Territory, FCT. I don’t know if they have it in the North-east or North-west. ‘’ I will only promise to talk to the South-western states that they should not allow the students to write anymore inside their textbooks.
Students should answer question in notebook
‘’They should be answering questions from the textbooks in notebooks in the interest of the family. ‘’Any money you save, you have save it for Nigeria, thereby teaching the children the virtue of savings which we don’t do in this part of the world. ‘’We are having a meeting of the National Executive Council in Abuja on Tuesday where I hope to correct this.” Also reacting, the Deputy Director of Press, Federal Ministry of Education, Mr. Bem Goong admitted that the Ministry was aware, adding that it is done across the federation. According to him, nobody is compelling the children to buy the text books.
Ministry of Education defends the initiative
Speaking with Vanguard on this issue, he said: ‘’As a parent, you will discover that these are workbooks with provisions for students to work in them. Therefore, you find it not convenient having another child to inherit the book after it has been worked on. It is a question of convenience.
‘’If you have a child who buys a Quantitative textbook and there are provisions for where to work on, will you allow your next child to also use the same book knowing that the other one has already worked on it.
The ministry is concerned withpolicy and regulations not the nitti gritty on how people will teach in the class.
The policy of the federal government is what is operationally convenient. Even if you say buy exercise books and use them, it is all about cost. Can you beat down the cost using this methodology?
Don’t forget that when they go back to school, some of these assignments are given daily such that when they get to the class, they ensure every child does the assignment. They mark in the process too.
The Federal Ministry of Education does not interfere with primary and secondary schools on such type of issues. The Ministry simply makes policy for private/public not forgetting that education is on concurrent. However, there is nothing peculiar about it. It is a question of cost, otherwise you will discover that is far more convenient.