Monday, 6 February, 2023

Textbooks printed on low-quality paper

NCTB compromises quality to get books in time

The National Curriculum and Textbook Board (NCTB) has compromised the brightness of paper to get all the textbooks in time amid printing press owners’ undue demand over unavailability of quality paper pulp.

Talking to the Daily Sun, NCTB chairman Md Farhadul Islam said, “Due to the crisis of virgin pulp in the market, we have compromised the brightness as we had no alternative to maintaining other factors.”

Sources at the NCTB said the brightness of paper was supposed to be 85-point. The press owners were repeatedly demanding lowering the paper quality on excuse of unavailability of quality pulp due to the global crisis.

The NCTB finally has accepted their proposal to print books at a brightness level of 82-point as top officials of the education ministry requested this to get all the books in time. But there are allegations that several presses are printing books using paper with a brightness level even lower than 82-point.

In a letter to the NCTB director on December 17, Uttam Kumar Das, director of the Directorate of Primary Education, mentioned that the Dashdisha Printers had got the contract to print and distribute a total of 1,32,387 books of classes I and II.

This press was given the charge of distributing books in a total of 47 upazilas, including 19 in the hill tracts. Though it has been given the contract to print such a large number of books, no one verified the quality of the papers of the books printed by them.

A few more similar letters were issued on the same day mentioning the names of some other presses where no one verified the quality of the papers for printing textbooks.

An official said the NCTB has already discarded books from more than 10 printing agencies due to low quality paper.

“Some three thousand books from Hawladar Offset have been discarded. Besides, around 300,000 copies of forme from Sarker   Press, 200,000 copies of forme from Sarker Offset and 100,000 copies of forme from the Al Amin Press have been destroyed,” Saidur Rahman, production controller of the NCTB, said.

A number of printing press owners, however, said that the number of presses came under NCTB action is very few compared to the number of presses printing textbooks using low quality paper.

And the most unfortunate fact remains despite all compromises made by the NCTB, the autonomous organisation is far away from timely distribution of textbooks.

Talking to the Daily Sun, at least three senior officials of the NCTB said it is not possible to distribute all books in every area on the first day of the year. They hoped that some 80 percent of all the books will be printed by December 31.

Neither of them could confirm the quality of paper used in printing textbooks.

The NCTB chairman said it will take more time to get books for primary level compared to the books for secondary level as printing of primary level books began late.

“It would be possible to provide some books to all the students for organising the textbook festival on January 1. But we have to work till January 10 to complete overall distribution of textbooks,” he said.