THE Ministry of Education must immediately engage Zambian local publishers and resolve the pending issues on the distribution of educational materials to schools, says Zambia National Union of Teachers secretary general Newman Bubala.
He said the Government must sit down with other stakeholders to have the correct books at the right time and that the delays in distributing books due to the stand-off between the ministry and the publishers was affecting the education system, especially the new curriculum.
Mr Bubala was commenting on the controversy between the Ministry of Education and Zambian Publishers who were deliberately left out from a lucrative Government tender to provide educational materials in Zambian schools. Zambian publishers have complained that the new system the ministry was using to award tenders for the procurement of educational materials was not favourable, and disadvantaged the local publishers.
Mr Bubala said the union was concerned with the delay of materials to schools, adding that materials were important and that any change of curriculum should go with new materials at the same time.
He said this was necessary to help teachers provide quality education, and that pupils should have access to books.
“It is unfortunate that there is a delay in the distribution of books in schools because the stakeholders involved have to sit down and resolve the issues so that they find a common goal,” he said.
Mr Bubala said if the ministry wanted everything to be centred at the ministry then it was prudent that the materials were distributed in time.
“Some of the schools are in dire need of the materials, especially in rural areas.
Now that the Government can do the job, let all the materials be distributed in time.
But the materials are not yet distributed in urban areas, what more of some schools that were in far-flung areas? This is unfortunate,” he said.
Mr Bubala said the reading culture in Zambia was poor, adding that parents and guardians must take a lead and ensure their children had access to books.