NEWLY introduced tender requirements in book publishing and distribution are cumbersome and costly in their application in Zambia, Times Printpak Zambia Limited has told the Parliamentary Select Committee on Education.
And Zambia National Educational Coalition (ZANEC) submitted before the same committee that the tendering system introduced by the Ministry of Education which was also a requirement by the Zambia Public Procurement Authority (ZPPA) failed to meet the expectations of the local publishers.
Appearing before the committee yesterday, Times Printpak Zambia Limited managing director Beston Ngonga said the book evaluation process from the Curriculum Development Centre (CDC) took too long and discouraged a lot of authors to participate.
“The tender process often takes a long time to be processed and this creates pressure on suppliers,” Mr Ngonga said.
He appealed to members of Parliament and the Ministry of Education through its procurement department and supply unit, to revise the procurement procedure to make it faster and less costly.
Mr Ngonga recommended that foreign publishers should set their factories in Zambia to create employment and fair competition with the local publishers.
Earlier, Mr Ngonga said the price of raw materials was very expensive as most of them were imported from abroad.
Mr Ngonga also said the central buying system from the ministry headquarters created delays and starved schools from receiving educational materials in time.
He said the restriction of books to syllabus was disadvantaging the publisher from selling to other markets.
And ZANEC board secretary Milton Mambo said the new tender system failed to meet the expectation of local publishers and had negatively impacted on the survival of the local publishers.
Mr Mambo said there was need for a clear policy framework on publishing and distribution of educational books, taking into consideration increased demand due to growth of population.
He demanded that the Ministry of Education reverts to the decentralization way of purchasing teaching and learning materials for schools in the wake of the move to decentralize early education, primary and adult education to local authorities.
“This will also facilitate for the individual local authorities or schools to decide which publisher is best suited for effective learning and teaching. This then will entail that more book publishers can favourably compete and benefit,” Mr Mambo said.