Friday, 2nd June 2023

Parents lament high cost of textbooks, seek reuse of old ones

By By Ujunwa Atueyi
05 September 2019   |   4:36 am
As schools resume on Monday, September 9, 2019, for a new academic session, parents have called on the Federal and state governments to through its various ministries of education regulate sales and distributions of textbooks in all schools.

As schools resume on Monday, September 9, 2019, for a new academic session, parents have called on the Federal and state governments to through its various ministries of education regulate sales and distributions of textbooks in all schools.

Besides, they urged the government to formally authorise the reuse of old textbooks in all schools across the country and sanction any private school that defaults.

Also, every trick associated with the routine change of textbooks from certain publisher or author to another, and updating to a newer version should be properly reviewed and harmonised.

Recall that time was, when older siblings or relatives pass down their textbooks to younger ones, without their parents buying new text every new academic session. And the practice was acceptable in schools.

But all that has changed in the contemporary school system, as most schools insist on newer edition of a particular book, and also have a preferred author.

They now identify the sale of textbooks as a great business venture, and most often, insist that parents must buy all books from the school’s bookshop.

Some of the parents that spoke with The Guardian on the prevailing challenges of every new academic session said it is really disheartening to have heaps of old textbooks at home without schools accepting them on the ground that they have newer version or different authors.

Mrs. Joyce Ekeh was among those that frowned at the narrative calling on school owners to be considerate in their actions, as there are lots of economic demands confronting parents.

“The textbooks I used from my primary to secondary school days were marked with different coloured inks, wrapped with old newspaper and some with brown sheets with my elder brother’s name boldly written on it. Almost all my textbooks except workbooks were passed to me by my elder brother and it was acceptable in my school. But that is no longer the case in the present-day schools. The government and ministries of education must find a way of bringing harmony in the use of textbooks in the system.

“I bought New General Mathematics Book 2 by J.B Chanon and others N1, 600; Goodbye to Failure in English (new edition), N1, 500; Civic education by Oluwasola Oyewole, N900; and catering craft by Aminu Barki, N1200. The list is a long one, with specifics on the edition and the author, but these are the few I can afford for now. This is asides from the stationery and other school items.

She continued: “Spending this huge sum to buy only four textbooks is not really the challenge. But the fact that my younger children will not be able to use the textbooks in the future. It is either the author has changed or the school has switched to a new publisher, or there is the latest edition with six pages of workbook inserted in the newer edition. If your child doesn’t have the latest version of the book, he or she will not participate in that exercise. This has been the trend over the years.”

Another parent Mr. Tunji Olaitan, alleged that school owners and publishers have formed an alliance to extort parents every new session through the sale of textbooks.

“The attitude of some of these school owners when it comes to buying and selling of textbooks indicates that they have a pact with these publishers. The interest is in what they will gain financially, not even the knowledge the pupils will garner. They are so insensitive to the economic instability of parents.

“I always advise parents to strive to buy at least English language, mathematics, civic education/government verbal and quantitative aptitude, with few other workbooks. Then use the old textbooks to follow up your wards at home, pending when there will be an intervention in this textbooks racketeering.”

Suggesting ways the intervention could come, Olaitan said ministries of education in the country should be the only body approving the use of textbooks in all schools across the country.

“Introduction of the new versions of textbooks or new author should be adequately reviewed and thoroughly coordinated in such a way that parents will gladly embrace the change.

The periodic insertion of workbooks inside textbooks should cease. If this is properly looked into, it will do away with expenditure on school textbooks, cushion the effect of hardship on parents, restore orderliness in use of textbooks in schools, and encourage pupils and students to learn how to preserve their textbooks.”

Mrs. Stacy Ephraim, a mother of four, lamented the inability of her children’s school to release the list of textbooks until the day of resumption.

“In the past, they use to insert the list in the school’s report card together with the school bills. But when they realised that most parents buy the textbooks outside the school’s bookshop, they stopped inserting the list in the report card. Truly, today’s schools are seriously out for business, it wasn’t so during my time.

“Schools are taking undue advantage of parents and pupils are the ones suffering for it, as most parents do not even care.”

Once they manage to buy stationeries and pay school fees, a textbook is not a must. And this I believe has an adverse effect on pupils’ academic performance. Authorities and stakeholders should if possible see how they can advise schools especially the private ones to accept reuse of old textbooks, new edition or not.”