MEMORANDUM TO THE COMMITTEE ON EDUCA TION, SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
Ministry of General Education
This Memorandum presents information on six (6) areas on which the Parliamentary Committee on Education, Science and Technology requested the Ministry of General Education to make a submission. This information was requested to aid the Committee in its discussion of the role of book publication and distribution in the education sector.
The six areas on which information was sought are as follows:
(i) The policy and legal framework governing book publication and distribution;
(ii) The role of book publishing and distribution houses in the education sector;
(iii)The relevance of book publishing and distribution firms in the education seetor;
iv)The process and effectiveness of book publication and delivery chain in the education sector
(v) The challenges, if any, that are faced in the procurement of educational materials, vis-a-vis book pub,Jjshers and distributors; and
(vi)The proposed solution to the challenqes above.;
1.1 GENERAL PERSPECTIVE OF BOOK PUBLICATION AND DISTRIBUTION
The Ministry of General Education through the Curriculum Development Centre (CDC) ensures compliance of book content with the National
Education Curriculum and syllabi in various subject areas. All textbooks
that go into schools are therefore evaluated through the same system . .
The process begins with providing the Publishers and individual authors with the National Curriculum, the syllabi and the quldellses that clearly spell out the minimum standard requirements for any textbook to be approved before it is used by schools. After these guidelines are provided, the Publishers, -at their expense, contract authors who, after interpreting the curriculum and syllabi, write books in various subject areas. These books are taken to CDC for approval. CDC working with Subject Committees comprising experienced primary and secondary teachers, and lectures drawn from Colleges and Universities across the country, evaluate books and write reports which are sent to publishers for their action. This process takes about three (3) months during which the publishers make corrections and re-submit the textbooks for verification and final approval.
After the textbooks that meet the minimum standard requirements are approved, reports on each textbook are written and conveyed to the publtshersvApproved books are then compiled and the list is sent to all key stakeholders’ including schools, Procurement Department and
Publishers. After this process Publishers sell their books to institutions of learning using either Central or Decentralised system.
The difference between the Book Evaluation done by CDC and Procurement Department is that the former is based on book content in line with the National Education Curriculum and related policy documents such as the syllabi, while the latter is mainly base on the provisions of the Public Procurement Act No, 12 of 2008 and the Public Procurement Regulations of 2011, which are applicable not only to Textbooks but to all goods and services that Government procures,
2.0 RESPONSES TO SPECIFIC QUESTIONS
2.1 The Policy and Legal Framework governing book publication and distribution in the Education Sector in Zambia.
a) “Educating Our Future”
Chapter 9 of the National Policy on Education, 1996, stipulates how book development publication and distribution should be conducted in the Education Sector. It outlines the responsibility of the key players in the Book Industry, the liberalisation of the industry, the responsibility of the Ministry of General Education and relationship between th.oe publishers and the Ministry.
According to this Policy document, the responsibilities of the private publishers include book development, production, marketing and distribution while the responsibilities of the Ministry of General Education include coordination, regulation, and approval of all education materials going into schools and erh~:ouraging the growth of the local book Industry in Zambia by providing the Zambian Publishers with information concerning the requirements for .book development.
b) The Zambia Education Curriculum Framework of 2013
The Zambia Education Curriculum Framework is a policy document that provides guidelines on the preferred type of education the nation has taken. It spells out learning areas for Early Childhood Education, Primary, Secondary, Adult Literacy and Colleges of Education. It provides information from which syllabi are developed and consequently education materials are developed, published and distributed.
c) The Education Act of 2011
The Education Act of 2011 Sections 95, 96 and 97 mandates the Ministry of General Education to specify the national school Curriculum, Syllabi, books and other educational materials are also.
d) The Education Statistical Bulletin
This!’ is a document which provides statistics annually on various education statistics including enrolments. This policy document assists the Ministry to project the pupil – book ratio and guide publishers on the quantities of education books to be procured and distributed.
2.2 The role of book publishing and distribution houses in the education sector
There are currently ” fourteen (14) publishers of which thirteen (13) are private and one (1) is public.
The roles of these publishers are to:
a) initiate develop produce, publish and supply education materials to institutions of learning;
b) market their product to the public and in’ ‘particular institutions of learning;
c) liaise with government through i: the miniS¥ries responsible for education on the requirements needed f6’r efft!ftive development of education materials;
d) ensure that they use qualified and experienced authors to write their books; and
e) ensure that all education materials developed and produced are of
high quality and they meet the minimum standards and requirem~nts stipulated in the guidelines known as the “criteria for Book Evaluation”.
2.3 The relevance of the book publication and delivery chain in the education sector
The current book publication and delivery chain in the education sector in a liberalised economy is relevant as it provides jobs to the private sector
and compliments Government’s effort in the provision of education materials to institutions of learning. However, book development and publication is still not yet fully developed. The upcoming local publishers need more encouragement and resources to make the industry grow.
2.4 The process and effectiveness of the book publication and delivery chain in the Education Sector;
The delivery chain for procured books is conducted in the following manner:
a) Provision of guidelines on book development to Publishers by the Ministry.
b) Contrac~ing of Authors to write books by Publishers at their own risk and expense.
c) Book approval by Curriculum Development Centre
d) Book Procurement by Procurement Department and Directorate of Standards and Cu-rriculum.
e) Development of delivery plan by Publishers, Curriculum;
f) Development Centre, Procurement DepartTl1ent and Directorate of Standards and Curriculum;
g) Inspection of printed books by Ministry 0f General Education officials at point of printing and dispatch;
h) Inspection of delivered books at the point of delivery such as schools, districts or colleges and
i) Submission of inspection reports to relevant authorities.
The above process of book publication and delivery in the education sector is effective.
However, the challenges that this process faces are lack of adequate transport to deliver books to the remotest parts of the country by book Publishers and sellers.
2.5 The challenges if any, that are faced in the procurement of educational materials vis-a-vis book publishers and distributors:
The following areas highlight challenges faced by the Ministry and publishers:
a. Misunderstanding of the Centralised Vs. Decentralised Buying;
The Ministry has always procured textbooks using Centralised Procurement System. What is called Decentralised textbook procurement is the selection of textbooks by individual schools in line with the contracts awarded by the Ministry of General Education Headquarters. Currently the Ministry is using Centralised approach throuqh-Frarnework/Rurmlnq Contracts and One-Off Contracts with Publishers/Bidders who meet the criteria of the Ministry.
Due to the fact that there is literary no procurement capacity at lower levels (Provinces, Districts, Colleges and Schools) the Ministry procures the text books centrally especially new text books under the revised curriculum and textbooks for n~wly opened schools.
Furthermore, under the Decentralised buying the Publishers failed to supply and deliver the textbooks throudf framework contracts and the Ministry recalled the funds which were sent to the Districts and schools for the procurement of textbooks.
It is important to that under Decentralised buying the unit costs of the textbooks is not subjected to evaluation criteria and selection of
textbooks is done at individual schools while under Centralised buying the unit cost and quality are factors in the evaluation criteria and the selection of textbooks is done centrally.
It must be noted that the competitive tenders (CePrtralised buying) have brought about huge saving in the unit cost of text books to an
extent that 500 reduction in many cases have been realised, saving the much needed tax payers’ money.
b. Lack of qualified Writers and Illustrators in the private sector
The private sector is faced with a challenge of insufficient qualified Writers and Illustrators. Currently, the private sector relies on WTiters in government particularly, the Ministry of General Education.
c. Inadequate procurement capacity at the lower levels (i.e. Province, District and Schools)
The current structure of the Ministry has no establishment for Procurement Officers at the lower levels (Districts, Colleges and Schools). This-has created a gap in the procurement process as the lower levels cannot be mandated to conduct procurement activities.
d. Misconception that the Ministry awards contracts to Foreign Publishers.
Since 2008, the Ministry has awarded all textbooks contracts to the Zambian registered companies: AJJegations tlrtat have been made that the Ministry has been awarding the textb<Y(t!} contracts to foreign companies are not true, the correct picture is that:
All the Publishers that were awarded contracts are registered in Zambia at Patents and Companies Agency (PACRA) therefore, they are Zambian registered Companies.
All the Publishers that were awarded contracts are registered with the Book Publishers of Zambia (BPAZ).
Most Publishers that were awarded contracts were even registered with the citizen Economic Empowerment Commission (CEEC) .
All the Publishers that were awarded contracts are registered’ the Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA) and had valid Tax Clear, Certificates.
e. High Cost of books when using uncompetitive bidding
The Ministry has observed that whenever uncompet’ procurement method is used the cost of textbooks tend to extremely high as compared to using the competitive procuren method. On average using competitive procurement method reduced the unit costs of textbooks to about five hundred per’ (500).
f. Fear of competition by some Publishers
The Ministry has observed that whenever competitive procurerne
method is used in the procurement of textbook, some publishers <,
not participate in the tenders due to lack of capacity to compete with their fellow publishers.
g. Lack of understanding of the roles of CDC i!nd those undertaken by the Ministry’s Procurernenb.Cornrnittee.
The evaluation process of the textbooks under the new currlci has not changed. Textbook evaluation has always been handle: the Curriculum Development Centre (CDC), and this pro involves realigning the book content to the curriculum and syllabi. The process of book evaluation by CDC ends with t approval.
The role played by the Procurement Unit is mainly on procurement process that is done in line with provisions of Public Procurement Act No.12 of 2008, and and Public procurement Regulations of 2011.
The two processes are independent and transparent and should be differentiated because process of book evaluation by CDC is purely on quality issues (based on the textbook content) and is not a Procurement Authority to supply textbooks to schools, whereas the Procurement Department uses the procurement process that is done inHne with provisions of the Public Procurement Act No.12 of 2008, and Public Procurement Regulations of 2011 is both on quality and cost. This Procurement Authority gives the Publishers authority to supply the textbooks to schools.
h. Reluctance by Book Publishers to publish books with low Print-tuns
There has been a tendency by some publishers to avoid developing textbooks and other education materials of low print-runs. This has created a shortage of materials in the subject areas with low-print- runs.
i. Evaluation Process of new curriculum textbooks
The evaluation process of the textbooks under the new curriculum has not changed. Text books evaluation has-alwavs been handled by the Curriculum Development centre (CDC) and this has continued in line with the mandate of CDC. The evaluation process is continuous (on-going) and the procurement evaluation is mainly on procurement process that is done in line with provisions of the Public Procurement Act No. 12 of 2008 (PPA) and Public Procurement Regulations of 2011.
2.6 The proposed solution to the challenges above
The Ministry will continue engaging Publishers on the need to adhere to
legal framework documents and guidelines on procurement, and also
encourage them to supply books to remote schools. The Governmenl also continue using both the decentralised and centralised svsterr ensure that rural schools have also adequate educational mate Therefore, the Ministry shall endeavour to:
a) Continue sharing information through regular meetings with Bo0k Publishers;
b) Continue capacity building activities at lower levels which inc training and review of structures;
c) Encourage small Publishers to form partnerships to COI favourably;
d) Continu-e t fostering favourable conditions for smaller Publish participate in~:t-he textbook tenders;
e) Continue using Publishers such as the Zambia Education Pub House (ZEPH) for materials with low-print runs;
f) Small Publishers to be encouraged to bid inqroups: and
g) Continue to encourage open competitive’ bidding in line with the fundamental principles of procurement.
The Ministry remains committed to enQ.,qging key stakeholders sucl Book Publishers, Zambia Public Procurement Authority (ZPPA), general public in resolving any challenges that might arise in the of book publication and distribution in Zambia.