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The findings > Thematic Studies> Textbooks and Learning Materials > Part 2
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EFA objectives

Both the World Declaration on Education for All and its accompanying Framework for Action are concerned with broad policy goals and targets, in only some of which the provision of school books and learning materials play a part. With respect to that provision, the Framework for Action sets out the following principles:

Addressing the basic learning needs of all means capitalizing on the use of traditional and modern information media and technologies, both of which should be designed to ensure equitable access, sustained participation, and effective learning achievement.

National and subnational planning should cover, among other subjects, the basic learning needs to be met, the languages to be used in education, ways of mobilizing family and local community support, requirements for capital and recurrent resources, possible measures for cost effectiveness, targets and specific objectives, and indicators and procedures for monitoring progress towards those targets.

Attention should be paid to reduction of inefficiency in the public sector and exploitative practices in the private sector; provision of improved training for public administrators and of incentives to retain qualified women and men in public service; and provision of measures to encourage wider participation in the design and implementation of basic education programs

Efficiency in basic education does not mean providing education at the lowest cost, but rather the most effective use of all resources (human, organizational, and financial) to produce the desired levels of access and of necessary learning achievement.

Pre- and in-service training programs for key personnel should be initiated, or strengthened where they do exist. [In this context, curriculum developers are mentioned, but not publishing professionalism.]

The quality and delivery of basic education can be enhanced through the judicious use of instructional technologies, such as educational radio and television, computers, and audio-visual instructional devices), which over time will become less expensive and more adaptable to a range of environments.

Existing regional partnerships will need to be strengthened and provided with the resources necessary for their effective functioning in helping countries meet the basic learning needs of their populations.

Textbook availability

Most governments, and most educators, would like to provide every student with a complete set of school books in every subject, free of charge. That, at least, is the ideal target - a textbook:pupil ratio of 1:1. In fact, it is a target imported from the industrialized nations that may be unnecessarily expensive. An often-quoted experiment in the Philippines suggests that when school books are the property of the school and are not taken home, there is only a marginal difference between ratios of 1:1 and 1:2, and some experts have suggested that a ratio of 1:3 should be regarded as satisfactory (Brunswic and Hajjar 1992, 19). Very few countries outside the industrialized North could afford to reach even the lowest of these targets in 1990. Instead, as a result of global recession and rising enrolments, the standard of textbook provision deteriorated during the late 1970s and the 1980s throughout Africa and in much of Latin America and Asia. It was well below the ideal as the decade came to a close (Table 1).

A survey in 1990-1 of Bolivia, Colombia, Chile, Ecuador, Panama, Peru, and Venezuela (members of SECAB, la Secretería de Educación del Convenio Andés Bello) found that only 32% of pupils between grades 1 and 5 had textbooks; variations between countries ranged from 64% in Chile to 20% or less in Ecuador, Peru, and Venezuela. In Mexico, the figure rose to 75% thanks to a national textbook program; in Brazil, it was estimated at about 33% (Lizarzaburu 1995). The national averages mask serious variations, as the comments in Table 1 and the data in Tables 2 and 3 demonstrate. In general, book provision was much better in the cities and towns than in rural areas, and areas that were difficult to reach had the fewest books - sometimes none. The pattern of rural deprivation has been most clearly documented in Africa. A summary of book sector studies in eight African countries found satisfactory to good ratios in the elite schools in important urban areas, but generally low levels of textbook provision at the primary level. Angola, Kenya, Nigeria, and Tanzania recorded primary-level textbook:pupil ratios of 2:3 or better in urban areas, but 1:20 or worse elsewhere. In Nigeria, the situation grew notably worse as one travelled northwards; in the majority of schools visited during a book sector study the textbook:pupil ratio was 1:10 and sometimes 1:100. In Tanzania, a primary-level mathematics book that was available at a 1:3 ratio in the Southern Highlands plummeted to 1:700 in the Lake zone. Only Sierra Leone had achieved a broad equity of supply between rural and urban areas, at a ratio of 1:3, as a result of an externally funded textbook project that paid particular attention to distribution networks. (Before the project, the ratio in Sierra Leone was close to 1:1,000.) At the secondary level, few books were available in Angola, Tanzania, and Zambia; in Kenya, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone the ratios were between 1:10 and 1:28, implying only one or two textbooks per class. Elite secondary schools, once again, were likely to have more textbooks. Most of the textbooks in the secondary schools had been repaired and maintained for 15 to 20 years (Buchan et al. 1991, 13, 15, 98, 118).

Table 1. Availability of Textbooks in Selected Countries, Various Years (not available)
Table 2. Textbook availability in first-level education, 1991 survey (not available)
Table 3. Textbook availability in primary schools (not available)

Variations between subjects and grades have also been noted. In Burundi, books were available only for language arts subjects in French and Kirundi (Eisemon 1993, 133). The SECAB survey of grades 1 to 5 in six South American countries found that while 70% of the students had textbooks in Spanish language, only 30% had textbooks in mathematics and fewer than 10% had them in science and social science (Lizarzaburu 1995).

Where books were provided free of charge, those for a particular subject or grade were often unavailable when needed because of delays in printing and distribution. Where books were sold, variations reflected parental priorities and incomes. Parents were more likely to buy books in subjects that would contribute to their child's future financial success. In provinces of China where rural schools had little in the way of state-provided learning resources and parents bought books, teachers in the poorest areas sometimes bought books for children from their own salaries (Colclough and Lewin 1993, 92).

At the tertiary level, textbooks in Africa and many other countries were in chronically short supply. A great majority were imported, and had become prohibitively expensive, despite schemes sponsored by the British and French governments to supply special low-cost editions. Shortages were more serious in teacher training and vocational institutes than in universities (Buchan et al. 1991, 16).

Quality of textbooks

The translation of broad curriculum outlines to a concrete book is no simple task. The book must be written at a level of concept, content, and vocabulary that is appropriate for the majority of pupils at the grade level and in a way that, ideally, will interest and motivate them. It must be consistent in approach, method, and explanation. It should be of use to the less qualified teacher but allow the good teacher to expand upon its content. Writing a good textbook requires the skills of a subject specialist, a curriculum expert, a good teacher with classroom experience, and an imaginative author, and as a result the writing of such books is increasingly a team effort.

In 1990 there was ample evidence that the books used in schools in many parts of the world fell below these standards. They suffered from poor instructional design, particularly in the scope and sequence of material. A study of textbooks for grades 1, 3, and 5 in 15 countries (cited in Lockheed 1993, 22) found that for the earlier grades the material in mathematics and reading was too difficult; in grade 5, the mathematics books were also too difficult but the reading books would have been more suitable for students in grades 2 and 3. Textbooks in Pakistan were characterized by poor language grading from one level to another and even between subjects at the same level; teachers said the books were overly difficult for their students. Difficult books in the early grades were seen as contributing to the high early drop-out rate in many countries.

A study of textbooks in Mozambique found that, while they followed the established curriculum, they were generally too theoretical and lacked sufficient linkages to the everyday experiences of the target users (Sida 1996, 11). Neumann (1980, 63) quoted a deputy minister of education in the Philippines as saying that textbooks in his country should be aimed towards the schools in poor villages; nevertheless, most of the officially approved school books in the 1980s catered for the urban elite.

Textbooks also suffered from errors in fact and grammar, inappropriate illustrations, and a poor choice of language or script. In many of the African countries, books were written in English, French, or Portuguese, even though in any one country fewer than 20% of the population was likely to be literate in any one of these metropolitan languages (Altbach 1995, 289; Bgoya 1997, 34). Textbooks in the republics of the USSR were in Russian, ignoring local languages such as Azeri, Turkmen, Kazakh, Uzbek, and Kyrgyz. In Pakistan (Lockheed 1993, 22), children could not read fluently the Arabic style Nasakh script favoured by the curriculum developers and textbook writers, and as a result depended on their teachers to read the books for them and summarize the lessons.

In text and illustration, the books tended to reinforce traditional views of men and women. Lockheed and Verspoor (1991, 149-50) cite various studies showing girls or women in passive roles. A primary book in Swaziland depicted a boy happily playing ball and a girl shying away from a snake. In the 29 most widely used primary textbooks in Peru, three-quarters of all references to and illustrations of people were of men. Similar discrepancies characterized the representation of men and women in school books from Costa Rica, Egypt, Kuwait, Lebanon, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Yemen, and Zambia. There were signs of change. In Costa Rica, after new books were produced with USAID support, the proportion of women and girls in illustrations rose from 25% to 31%; female figures no longer were shown as less dependent and more often in stereotypically male roles; males were sometimes shown as caring for children or undertaking domestic tasks.

To an increasing extent, even in former colonial countries, textbooks were being written by local experts. European books were no longer being adapted, and even transnational publishers were using local authors with local teaching experience. If the books were less perfect pedagogically than their Northern counterparts, they were less eurocentric and thus more related to the experience of pupils (Rathgeber 1992, 82).

In most countries, the physical quality of the books was well below Northern standards (Buchan et al. 1991,36-7, Lockheed 1993, 24). Imported paper was expensive, binding facilities limited, and machinery old and in need of repair. As a result, books were too often poorly printed on low-grade paper, inadequately bound by the adhesive ("perfect") method, and used only black and white illustrations of varying quality. Such books could not stand up to the rigours of rainy climates, when pupils often had to walk long distances between home and school. Everywhere, the perfect-bound books were apt to fall apart. Externally funded textbook projects often used better paper and their products could be expected to last three years or more. Some incorporated four-colour printing, a feature that might be difficult to retain after the project closed.

The number of subjects, and therefore the number of textbooks, was increasing in some countries. This trend was evident in Africa (Buchan 1991, 6; Brunswic and Hajjar 1992, 9), where it was increasing strains on budgets and teachers. In most cases, however, only core subjects were actually available, and some countries were reversing the trend. Mozambique, for example, had decided to concentrate on six core subjects for Grade 5 as opposed to the 11 subjects then taught in Tanzania. Ethiopia had decided to teach three subjects (natural and exact sciences and geography) as environmental studies, with a single textbook.

Use of textbooks

Statistics of textbook provision are notoriously unreliable. Books that are reported to have been produced do not always reach the schools. They may be damaged in transit, pilfered, or, more commonly, held up in district storehouses for lack of resources to carry them further. Those that reach the schools, moreover, may not be used in the classroom. This was apparently often the case in 1990.

The reasons for non-use varied. In some countries, government regulations made ill-paid teachers responsible for replacing lost and damaged books, and as a result teachers kept the books locked up. Teachers were not trained in the methods of new textbooks, and therefore hesitated to use them, or were reluctant to use them because their interests and experiences, and those of their students, were not reflected in the content. Some teachers felt threatened by new textbooks, and there was some evidence (cited in Psacharopoulos and Woodhall 1985, 221) that less experienced teachers, who might be expected to benefit most from a carefully prepared textbook, were less likely to use them than their more experienced colleagues.

Teachers' guides and supplementary materials

Teachers' guides were seldom available in developing countries. Lockheed and Verspoor (1991, 53) cite various studies: schools in Guinea-Bissau had guides only for grade 1; in Malawi, fewer than 15% of teachers had received a guide for a subject other than English; in rural Brazil, only 44% of teachers had received teachers' guides. Where textbooks were bought by parents rather than provided by the state, teachers' guides were apt to be in particularly short supply. Moreover, many guides were unrelated to the ability of the average classroom teacher and were often designed without consideration of the teacher's reading fluency or the conditions under which the guides would be read; small type, for example, was ill-suited to be read in the poor lighting of rural communities (Buchan et al. 1991, 7).

Where textbooks were in short supply, supplementary materials might be expected to be even more scarce. In many countries school libraries either did not exist or had fallen into disrepair at the primary and secondary levels, except in elite public or private schools. Book stocks were outdated, and very often eurocentric. At the tertiary level, textbooks and reference works were so scarce that students resorted to wholesale photocopying of library titles, if not to theft or mutilation. Even university libraries that had been well stocked in the past had been unable to buy many new books or journals for some years. Public libraries, a resource for school children, also deteriorated, although Mexico (Magaloni 1993, 81) was remarkable in creating some 3,500 new public libraries in the period 1982-92 in a national system that served 71 million readers stretching from the capital to remote villages isolated by mountains, river, and jungle.

In nine African countries surveyed in book sector studies, libraries and supplementary materials were seriously underfunded as governments channelled scarce resources primarily into textbooks. The majority of primary and secondary schoolchildren had no access to books or other reading materials apart from textbooks. Most books that were available were European in origin and inappropriate in content. There were not enough books about African history, geography, literature, or cultures. Teachers and principals were not trained in the maintenance and use of school libraries. At the secondary level, school libraries were disintegrating in stock, buildings, furniture, and trained staff. In some countries, governments distributed supplementary reading materials to the schools but did not develop the infrastructure to store and use them. Sierra Leone, however, did take that important basic step and, as a result, supplementary materials it had distributed to the schools five years earlier were still in place (Buchan et al. 1991, 53-6; British Council 1992, 17-20).

Schools that did have supplementary materials performed better than those that did not. The Escuela Nueva program in Colombia used a variety of instructional materials, including school libraries, to great effect. High achieving schools in Thailand benefited from community support for the purchase of supplementary text materials. Supplementary materials were also reported to have been used successfully at the Gonakelle school in Sri Lanka and in adult literacy programs in Nepal (Lockheed and Levin 1993, 9).

Methods of textbook provision

Pupils in public systems of education received textbooks in one of three ways:

1 Provided free of charge by the state This was the method followed in many countries of Asia, Africa, Latin America, and the socialist republics of eastern Europe and western Asia. Free provision was more common in primary schools than at the secondary level. Books might be produced cheaply and given to the pupils each year for them to keep (as in the soviet republics), or given to the schools and lent to the pupils for their use during the school year on the understanding that they would be returned.

The provision of free books was intended to ensure equity in availability (although it did not) and responded to a viewpoint expressed by one Mexican expert (quoted in Neumann 1980, 54) that "if a government says that elementary education becomes an obligation for every citizen, then the government should provide the facilities for such education." Remarkably, in some African countries university students were given free tuition and free books but primary students were expected to pay for books, thus reinforcing an elite at the expense of the broader population (Psacharopoulos and Woodhall 1985, 187).

2 Sold through commercial channels Parents or students bought books, usually through retail outlets. The price of books might be subsidized by the state, sometimes with external assistance. Textbooks were sold at the primary level in some countries of Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean. In the newly industrialized countries of Asia, textbooks were generally published by privately owned companies that worked closely with the educational authorities but usually received only limited assistance or subsidy from the government. Practices could vary within a single country: in Nigeria, primary-level textbooks were free in the Northern states but sold in the Southern and Eastern states (Altbach 1985, 290; Buchan et al. 1991, 20-1).

Selling the book inevitably led to inequities. First, bookstores were located primarily in the urban centres, although textbooks (a short-term investment with rapid turnover) might be sold at the beginning of the school year in stationery shops and other small retail outlets elsewhere. In the primarily rural Northwest Frontier Province of Pakistan, for example, textbooks produced by the provincial textbook board were sold through a network of wholesale distributors and retailers that stretched from the provincial capital into the villages. Second, not all parents could afford to buy textbooks for their children. In Côte d'Ivoire, a textbook cost about one-tenth of the monthly salary of the head of an average family (Newton 1995, 378). Where books were in particularly short supply, as in Angola, a black market operated with high markups. Third, textbooks might not be available when needed because of inefficient ordering by the retailers or delays in shipping, which could be especially serious in a country or region with many islands, such as the Philippines or eastern Caribbean.

3 Book rental Under this method, a school bought or was given class sets or part class sets of books and issued the books to the pupils in return for an annual fee. The books would be returned at the end of the year for re-use. The fee was set to recover part or all of the cost of replacing the books, and to that end the rental income was placed in a revolving fund. This method allowed educational authorities to amortize the cost of books over a three- to five-year period, depending on the anticipated life of the textbook, and thus reduce the annual cost to the pupils or their parents. Such a system had been operating successfully in Lesotho for eight years, despite some problems, including delinquency in payments and inaccurate projections of needs. The government was planning, however, to supplement rental fees with an annual allocation to cover the costs of distribution and administration (Buchan et al 1991, 20; British Council 1992, 14-15). Rental schemes were seen as particularly desirable at the secondary level, but could operate in primary and tertiary institutions. In a variation on such schemes, parents might be required to supplement government allocations. In Fiji, for example, because a flat grant from the Ministry of Education for each enrolled pupil was not large enough to cover full operating costs, some school committees charged parents a small sum for the purchase of textbooks, library books, and other materials (UNESCO 1986, 11). In private schools, students would normally be expected to buy textbooks, which might or might not be the same as those used in the public system.

Production of textbooks

Historically, the provision of textbooks in developing countries followed three stages. Initially, the countries imported existing books from the North, usually from the colonial or former colonial power. Next, they began using adapted versions of foreign books, modified to meet local needs and experience, and often published by transnational companies based in the former colonial power. In the third stage, books were written and produced locally, often by the state.

By 1990 most countries had achieved local production, at least of primary texts, although specialized secondary textbooks were more likely to be adapted and tertiary texts often were imported. Typically, each country sought to produce its own books, sometimes without taking advantage of possible adaptations that would benefit from investments already made by other publishers in developing instructional methods. International trade in textbooks, either as licensing of adaptations or as imports of finished books, generally followed the path of North to South from the metropolitan countries of Europe and North America . To support local production, some countries imposed regulatory barriers. Zimbabwe, which secured its books entirely from the private sector, required local reprinting of foreign-originated books that sold more than 5,000 copies, and indeed had begun exporting textbooks to neighbouring countries (Rathgeber 1992, 87-8; Brunswic and Hajjar 1992, 12).

Local production was common even in sub-Saharan Africa, where large-scale book production was still relatively new and where the shortage of books was so acute that Hans Zell, the principal chronicler of African publishing, could exclaim (Zell 1990, 21) that "The picture of Africa at the end of the 1980s is largely that of a bookless society."

In anglophone sub-Saharan Africa, British transnationals (notably Macmillan, Heinemann, Oxford, Longman) had established sales offices which, in the more populated countries, functioned as regional publishers. As a result of the economic recession of the 1980s, many of these transnational branches closed, leaving behind trained editors and other staff who were ready to begin their own enterprises. By 1990 several branches had passed to private local ownership or control (for example, in Kenya and Nigeria). Elsewhere, foreign publishers entered into joint ventures with locally owned publishers of textbooks, which were often parastatal organizations in which the state retained a controlling share. Namibia, unlike other anglophone countries of Africa, still depended primarily on imports, in its case from South Africa.

The countries of francophone Africa still imported large quantities of textbooks from France. In 1987, francophone Africa, excluding the Magreb, represented 13% of the export market for French books, even though prices there averaged 44% more than those in other French export markets that benefited from cheaper insurance and shipping and lower risk (Prillaman 1992, 199). In 1990, 10 countries of francophone Africa imported FF 163.7 million worth of books from France; in six of the 10, textbooks accounted for almost two-thirds of the total book imports; in the other four, where Arabic was a significant language, the textbook proportion shrank to 36% (Newton 1995, 376). French publishers also had stakes in locally controlled textbook publishing houses. Local print runs could be substantial: le Centre d'édition et distribution africain (CEDA), owned jointly by the government of Côte d'Ivoire and the French publisher Hatier, printed 250,000 copies of one textbook.

Regional cooperation in publishing was rare. The ministries of education of eight francophone countries of sub-Saharan Africa, however, began the process in 1988 by identifying core subjects, such as French, mathematics, and science, in which they could develop common curricula and textbooks. By 1990 they were well under way to producing the first books in mathematics (British Council 1992, 23).

In both anglophone and francophone Africa, state-owned and parastatal publishers benefited from hidden subsidies (for example, rent and staff costs that did not need to be recovered from sales, tax exemptions on supplies, subsidized state-owned or parastatal printing). Locally owned private publishers occasionally ventured into the school market, but for the most part they were marginalized by the much larger transnational, foreign, state-owned, or parastatal textbook publishing operations.

The role of the state in school book provision

In virtually every country of the world, the state is involved to some extent in the provision of learning materials - at the very least by establishing the curricula on which school books are based and, even in the freest of markets, by buying some or all of the materials used in the public system. In most of the world outside Western Europe and North America, the state played a much greater role than that in 1990. In many countries, the same Ministry of Education unit that defined the curriculum was also responsible for writing the books to support it. School books were printed in plants that were owned by governments or parastatals. Books were published by the Ministry or by parastatals under its control. Distribution also was often the responsibility of the Ministry or a parastatal. In some countries, particularly those with communist or strongly socialist governments, the entire process - from writing to use in the schools - was carried out by government ministries or agencies. In the USSR, for example, all curricular materials were designed, controlled, manufactured, and distributed free of charge, in sufficient quantities, by the state; the republics all had a uniform supply of such materials and followed the same curricula. In other countries the private sector might be involved in one stage or more of textbook provision. However, even in some countries with large commercial publishing industries, such as India, the state might retain responsibility for publishing textbooks for the public system.

Searle (1985, 9) listed possible combinations of private and state engagement and showed how functional responsibilities were divided in 25 countries where the World Bank had financed projects that had textbook provision as a component (Table 4). Almost all the projects were in four regions: Eastern Africa, Western Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, and East Asia and the Pacific. The diversity of patterns was remarkable. For the 25 countries examined there were 19 different patterns or arrangements of the four aspects of textbook provision considered. Only two patterns recurred.

State predominance was more evident in the ten African countries surveyed by Brunswic and Hajjar (Table 5). In most of the countries of francophone Africa, a specialized institution (commonly called l'Institut pédagogique national) was responsible for developing editorial guidelines, preparing manuscripts, and commissioning, publishing, printing, and/or approving textbooks. In Sénégal and Togo, the Ministry of Education had direct responsibility (Newton 1995, 374).

In some countries, state involvement in the provision of learning materials, as in other parts of the economy, was a matter of ideology. In others it began as a response to perceived necessity. With independence, former colonies had no indigenous source of school books. Foreign publishers who had supplied textbooks in the past were suspect as agents of colonialism, and were themselves wary of investing in or extending credit to the newly independent countries. Yet there was an immediate need, not only in the former colonies but everywhere in the developing world, for cheap books to educate growing populations in curricula that had been revised to meet new national conditions and aspirations, and at the higher level to meet the demand for trained professionals and public servants. The private sector of most countries did not have the infrastructure or the capital to meet this challenge, and most families did not have the money to

Table 4. Alternatives for implementing textbook provision (not available)
Table 5. Functional responsibilities in 10 African countries with respect to textbooks (number of countries under each function) not availble

buy commercially produced books at full cost. Very small countries, such as the island states of the South Pacific, had no alternative to state responsibility. The task was taken on by government, if not from political belief, by default.

State involvement was seen as a means of controlling the use of scarce resources and subsidies. It was believed to be economical because it eliminated the markups and profit of commercial printing, publishing, and bookselling. The Ministry could determine quantities and schedules and ensure they were met. Those transnational publishers who continued to do business in developing countries were not averse to working with governments, particularly if in that way they could secure a monopoly or dominant position in providing textbooks (Altbach 1996, 4). The World Bank and other major bilateral donors also worked with governments as a matter of policy, and in two early large projects in the Philippines and Indonesia (and in others later) encouraged the development of a central agency to develop, produce, and distribute textbooks. A study sponsored by the World Bank (Lockheed and Verspoor 1991, 128) concluded that:

Developing sustainable capacity for creating, testing, producing, and distributing student learning materials - as well as teacher guides and in-service training materials - requires a significant commitment of the central ministry's resources. Experience in Bangladesh, China, Ethiopia, and the Philippines suggests that textbook agencies, whether autonomous or divisions of the (national or federal) education ministry, are essential to establishing and sustaining a program of materials development ... Even small countries, where publishing industries are relatively weak because the market for textbooks is small, may have to set up a clearly defined unit for developing instructional materials, carrying out the design, development, and testing necessary to achieve high quality, and managing the storage and distribution of materials.

The dominance of the state impeded the development of private-sector educational publishing, and thus perpetuated the need for state involvement in countries where it existed. It also nurtured a "state provider" mentality (Brickhill et al. 1996, 11) that proved difficult to dislodge.

Problems commonly ascribed to government bureaucracies arose. Policies changed and so did ministers. One major textbook project dealt with eight ministers of education in four years, each with a new approach to policy (Read 1992, 207). Civil servants were often poorly motivated to seek economies and usually inexperienced in publishing practices. In many countries they were posted in and out of positions without regard to continuity, at the sacrifice of institutional memory. There was wastage and inefficiency, and some corruption - unsurprising when civil service wages fell far behind the cost of living. There was inadequate coordination among the various functions of writing, production, and distribution. An adviser to the World Bank (Neumann 1980) warned that when government agencies produced textbook manuscripts for publication, the procedure was fraught with political implications and conflict of interest. Some of these problems bedeviled similar experiments everywhere. In Sweden, for example (Gedin 1991, 137), a huge state-owned publishing house had collapsed under the weight of a large bureaucracy and great financial losses.

Separate state-owned companies, or parastatals, were created in an effort to retain government control without some of the constraints of government personnel policies. They were given considerable managerial and financial autonomy but received funds and sometimes direction from the government. It was expected that they would be managed more in line with commercial publishing practices. Some parastatals were joint ventures between the government and one or more foreign commercial publishers. CEDA, previously mentioned, in which the Ivorian government held 51%, was one such venture, as was les Nouvelles éditions africaines, which, before its breakup into three national companies in 1988, was owned jointly by the governments of Sénégal, Côte d'Ivoire, and Togo (60%) and a consortium of French firms and became a major force in publishing with a long list of titles (Prillaman 1992, 200-1; Zell 1990, 20). In anglophone Africa British publishers entered into joint ventures with parastatals in Ghana, Tanzania, and Uganda, experiments which Buchan (1992, 353) characterized as "interesting and desirable ... but too often the interests of overseas commercial publisher and local state enterprise were too divergent for them to stay together."

In countries where the government dominated the writing and publishing of learning materials, there was normally only one textbook for each subject/level. This was the case in countries that required a massive effort simply to produce the single text in sufficient numbers, such as the Philippines and Indonesia, in the socialist countries of Asia and eastern Europe, in the USSR, and in many countries of Africa. In countries that permitted private-sector educational publishing, there might be a choice among competing textbooks, although in some cases the market was dominated by a single publishing house, local or foreign-owned. Zimbabwe and Nigeria were among the few African nations that permitted multiple choice in an open market in which schools chose the texts they would use from a list of government-approved titles (Rathgeber 1992, British Council 1992, 8).

Constraints in provision

Educational publishers, whether state-controlled or privately owned, faced serious constraints in 1990. The most important were in financing, production, distribution, information, and human resources.

Financing Book publishing of any kind, but especially the publishing of textbooks, is a capital-intensive business. It typically takes three years to identify authors, plan, and write a textbook, edit it, pre-test it in classrooms, prepare it for printing, print and bind it, and deliver it to the schools. With luck, the process may take less time, but more often it takes longer. During this time staff and office expenses must be paid, paper and other materials bought, printers paid. A competitive textbook market involves additional expenses for marketing and promotion. If the books are to be sold, it may take two to three years more to recoup the capital investment.

The global recession of the 1980s and the policies of structural adjustment had a devastating effect on government budgets for education, especially on non-salary items such as books. Between 1985 and 1990, real public expenditure per student fell at the primary level in seven of nine Latin American countries for which data were available and in 13 of 20 in Africa; it also fell at the secondary level in Africa (World Bank 1995, 69). Budgets for classroom resources (books, teaching aids, furniture, and other equipment) were already low. When industrial countries were allocating 14% of primary-school recurrent costs to classroom resources and 86% to salaries, Asian countries were allocating 9% to classroom resources and African countries only 4% (Psacharopoulos and Woodhall 1985, 224). Expenditures on learning materials and other non-salary recurrent expenses fell in countries suffering from recession, sometimes to close to zero. Supplementary materials were first to be affected, then textbooks. The reduction in learning material procurement may have slowed after the middle of the decade, but only because by then salaries accounted for almost all recurrent expenditures. The trend was felt most strongly in sub-Saharan Africa. There, expenditure on educational materials represented about 1% of the recurrent primary school budget in 1983, the equivalent of about US$0.60 per pupil. Given the unequal distribution of books, rural areas suffered disproportionately (Colclough and Lewin 1993, 168).

Within this restricted market, educational publishers in the private sector faced an additional hurdle: finding credit to capitalize textbook projects. Interest rates rose under structural adjustment, in some countries to 40% or more. Banks, moreover, were reluctant to lend money to entrepreneurs in a high-risk, low-profit industry, or to recognize books in the warehouse or work in progress as collateral. Paper ceases to be collateral as soon as it is printed upon.

Under the stringency of falling export revenues, devaluation, inflation, and structural adjustment, African governments increased efforts to achieve partial or full recovery of costs in textbooks. Lesotho's success has already been mentioned. Ethiopia began charging for textbooks lent for the school year, with 45% of the revenue being retained for printing more books and the balance shared between the schools and the regional offices; the latter was expected to use its share for expanding school library facilities. Angola and Mozambique sold textbooks but subsidized the price substantially. Uganda experimented with a subsidized rental fee (Brunswick and Hajjar 1992, ii; Buchan et al. 1991, 20).

Partial cost recovery, of course, did no more than reduce the problem of budget shortages. It did not make a nation's educational publishing program financially self-sustaining. In Ghana, for example, a long-established system of partial cost recovery collapsed because revenue was insufficient to maintain supply. Under new guidelines issued in 1987, textbooks were to be rented for a fee that was based on the cost of production and the expected life span of the books. (British Council 1992, 13-14).

For many countries, cost recovery was a new approach beset with problems. In Paraguay, for example, a government scheme to sell textbooks for profit through its Internal Revenue Service offices foundered, and 90% of the books were unsold (Searle 1985, 18). More commonly, books were unknowingly sold below true cost because of inadequate bookkeeping in Ministry or parastatal offices. In 1986 a World Bank publication suggested a radically different approach - one that would be relatively easy to administer if politically difficult - for cost recovery in one sector to benefit another. The authors proposed that governments eliminate the free tuition and living allowances then commonly paid to African university students (a practice that reinforced an already existing elite) and invest the money thus saved in primary education. They calculated that if 12 African countries were to eliminate living allowances, the public resources thus freed would allow, on average, an 18% expansion in the yearly budget for primary education. Nationally, the figure ranged from just under 3% in Sudan to more than 40% in Togo. If fees were introduced to cover all the operating costs of higher education, an additional expansion of 22.5% in primary education would be possible (World Bank 1986, 21).

Production Paper was the single most expensive item in book production costs, representing between 45% and 70% of the cost of manufacture. Most of the paper suitable for books was produced in the North, and prices were set by demand from the prime user, the United States. Countries which had developed their own paper-making capacity often protected it with high tariffs, even for educational purposes, and locally produced paper was sometimes more expensive than superior stock produced overseas. (In the North, in contrast, paper represented about 30% of total manufacturing costs, reflecting relatively higher costs of labour.)

Book printing is specialized work, different in its requirements from printing newspapers, magazines, or commercial products. Capacity was limited by the number of book printers in most countries and by the quality of their equipment. Costs were driven up when presses and other machinery were old and ill-maintained, occasioning frequent need for repairs and consequent down time. Paper was misappropriated, damaged in transit, or used inefficiently because of mismatches between available sheet sizes and the printer's press size. A publisher in one developing country suggested that paper wastage from mismatching could reach as high as 50% (Priestley forthcoming). Books were also delayed by mismatches in equipment - most commonly between new high-speed presses and outdated binding technology. The shortage of thread-binding equipment forced dependence on adhesive binding and resulted in books that fell apart. Printing and binding machinery, spare parts, and materials were subject to high duties and sales taxes. Under such conditions, quality suffered, as did prices and schedules.

Local control of publishing does not require local printing. Commercial publishers in the North commonly crossed oceans in search of the most cost-effective printing. Many governments in the South, however, insisted that books be printed at home, often in state-owned or parastatal plants, regardless of efficiency or cost. In three of nine African countries surveyed in book sector studies, local printing prices were higher than could be obtained outside the country (Buchan et al. 1991, 35). Donated printing equipment not infrequently sat gathering dust for lack of trained operators or because there was no local service agency to repair it. Some equipment stood idle for much of the year because its capacity was far greater than needed.

Distribution Geography impedes distribution in much of the global South. Some countries are archipelagos - there are 10,000 islands in Indonesia, and 7,000 in the Philippines - or are themselves islands separated by ocean from their neighbours. Transport is impeded by rivers, mountains, deserts, jungles. Roads are poor, and trucking often inadequate. Tens of thousands of schools are hours from the nearest road, and books for them must be delivered by canoe, head porterage, or pack animal. State-supported distribution systems generally depended on teachers, parents, or the community to carry learning materials from district depots to isolated schools. Even that system was seen to be breaking down as teachers' salaries dropped in real terms and were paid less reliably.

Where the state was responsible for distribution, books typically were gathered in a central warehouse and shipped to district depots, whence they were directed to schools. In some countries there was an additional step, books going first to regional depots, to be divided there for transshipment to districts and thence to schools. At each stage, there was the possibility of failure. District offices often lacked the funds to pay forwarders, sometimes because the money had not been provided, sometimes because they had never accounted properly for the previous year's advance for that purpose. Packaging and storage were often inadequate to protect the books against water, insects, mould, and vermin. In one instance during the rainy season in 1984, new books were delivered to a regional store in Ghana that had no roof; within days the books were soaked and useless (Read 1992, 314).

Books could be delayed by erratic shipping schedules or by the pursuit of economies. In order to ship books efficiently orders were often consolidated, in which case the total order could be held up until the last title was delivered by the printer or publisher. Sometimes distribution costs were unnecessarily high: in the scattered islands of the eastern Caribbean, for example, textbooks were sometimes delivered by freighter or even more expensive air freight, despite the presence of a regular, reliable, and inexpensive domestic service that provided baking flour to the islands by boat (Clare 1993, 32).

Efficient, economical distribution was further impeded by a lack of adequate information from the schools. Depot storekeepers were untrained in inventory control and maintenance. Books were damaged, lost, or stolen. A combination of delays, from development through to distribution, could result in books being delivered a year, or even three years, behind schedule (Searle 1985, 23).

In most countries where books were sold through retail outlets, bookstores were scarce in the urban centres and almost unknown outside the cities. Distribution depended on an informal network of suppliers.

Information Efficient provision requires accurate and timely information on which to project enrolments, and therefore textbook needs, by school, grade and subject. Central planners need data on the number, size, and type of schools; current enrolments by grade, school, sex, and age; historical and projected rates of change in enrolment; numbers of teachers; numbers of school libraries, and so on. This kind of information was difficult to accumulate in countries where communication by telephone or mail was unreliable. Data were incomplete, sometimes false, more often outdated, and pitted with errors created during collation at several steps up the ladder to the central office.

Human resources Ministry of Education staff were rarely familiar with printing and publishing practices. Curriculum developers were often expected to make major decisions with little or no idea about the implications in cost or time involved. Costs were inflated by ill-informed decisions about book length, illustrations, colours, and format. Government, parastatal, and private-sector publishers all suffered from a lack of trained personnel - authors, editors, evaluators, designers, production coordinators, distribution and warehouse supervisors, financial and publishing managers. Some publishing institutions obtained training through partnership with overseas commercial publishers. Others sent staff to short-term training courses within Africa or for long-term training abroad, but these resources in 1990 were still relatively limited.

The role of funding agencies and donors

To fund the growing needs of education, governments looked for international help. The World Bank expanded its mandate from project-related vocational training to provide support for school buildings, textbooks, curriculum development, and institutional development. The proportion of education projects with textbook components grew steadily, from about 6% before 1974 to 32% in 1979-83 to almost 65% by 1990 (Read 1992, 308). In northeast Brazil, a Bank project tripled the number of students receiving textbooks; in the Philippines, a massive effort was funded to reduce the textbook:pupil ratio from 1:10 to 1:2 (Lockheed 1993, 24). In three projects alone, in the Philippines, Indonesia, and Ethiopia, more than 350 million textbooks were produced. The process was not without growing pains, however, as Barbara Searle (1985, 25) recognized in a review of the Bank's educational projects over the previous 10 years. She identified serious shortcomings:

This review makes it clear that at least some of the projects approved early in this decade recognized that textbook publishing is complex and highly technical; that it requires professional competence in many specialties; and that developing a good textbook takes time, three years at a minimum. Yet, even with this recognition, projects underestimated the difficulties. Of the nine projects surveyed, only three ... left behind functioning textbook provision schemes. Beyond this, the completed projects provide evidence for shortfalls in every aspect of textbook provision: poor quality books, inadequate distribution systems, inability to establish and maintain production schedules, inadequate procedures for handling paper procurement, teacher training activities out of phase with book publication, poor coordination between curriculum and manuscript development, and, above all, failure to establish institutions that can continue to provide good quality books after project completion.

Ninety per cent of the 48 projects she reviewed financed the purchase or printing of textbooks, but fewer than half included teacher training, monitoring and evaluation, or dealt with policy changes. Only half the projects that provided books also financed manuscript development and book distribution, and only half of those (11 projects) also financed teacher training. Only 10 projects explicitly dealt with the institutional structure of the textbook provision system and modified it in some way. She concluded that

the likelihood of a textbook component attaining its objectives is directly related to the extent to which the project design addresses all aspects of the textbook provision system. It is not crucial that a project finance every component. However, the analysis of the system that is undertaken during preparation and appraisal must include all aspects to make sure that the entire supporting system is in place and functioning well (Searle 1985, 18).

The World Bank was the leading, but not the only international, agency supporting textbook provision. The British Overseas Development Administration had textbook programs in Sierra, Leone, Jamaica, and Jordan. Its three-year project in Sierra Leone, where there was no publishing capacity when financing began in 1984, extended beyond book provision to creation of school storage and a school management system, teacher training in a new curriculum and use of textbooks, warehouse improvement, and training of publishing staff (Buchan 1992, 360-1). In francophone Africa, l'Agence de coopération culturelle et technique, supported by France, Canada, and Belgium, distributed dictionaries and reading materials to schools, and in 1990 was organizing a training program in printing, publishing, book distribution and bookstore management (Prillaman 1992, 205-6). Scandinavian governments were notable for their support of book development. The Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) was active in Bangladesh, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, Tanzania, and Zambia; the Finnish International Development Agency (FINNIDA), in Namibia and Zambia; and Danish International Development Assistance (Danida), in Burkina Faso, Nepal, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zimbabwe. Non-governmental organizations, often with funding from their national government's aid agency, played a small but increasing role as well. The Canadian Organization for Development through Education (CODE), for example, supplied paper and distributed supplementary materials, and several book-related organizations in Europe organized short training courses.

The smaller contributions were generally ad hoc, uncoordinated, and short-term. Individual agencies had their own agendas, political or altruistic. Several projects involved the supply of paper, a short-term solution to immediate needs that could have the longer-term effect of distorting the market. (Unless the equivalent cost of the donated paper was recognized when it was used, book prices would rise abruptly when the supply ended and paper had again to be bought on the market. Then fiscal allocations for textbooks would have to be increased or, more often, textbook provision sharply reduced.) Equipment was too often supplied without spare parts or technical support for maintenance and repair. One-time seminars and workshops were held for writers, editors, publishers, printers, and booksellers, but with little or no follow-up, and funding agencies were sometimes disappointed to find that people, once trained, moved from school book publishing to better paying jobs. Funders complained that they had difficulty in identifying all the links in the publishing chain and in understanding the broad concerns that underlay what might seem a simple project. The impact of much of the effort was short-lived and local (Priestley 1993, 215; Priestley forthcoming).

One major exception was a loan guarantee scheme started in Kenya by the Dag Hammarskjøld Foundation, with support from the Ford Foundation of US$300,000. The Foundation negotiated with local banks to guarantee credit extended to local publishers in a normal way. Kenya was chosen because it had a well developed book market, but one then dominated by transnational publishers. Eleven applications for loans were accepted under the scheme. There were problems in communication - the banks initially expected to be repaid as soon as books were published, not understanding that it takes time to recover publishing costs through sales - and some of the borrowers ran into difficulty because of financial or marketing inexperience. Nevertheless, only three publishers failed to repay their loans and had to be rescued by the guarantee. The scheme was significant in assisting the indigenization of Heinemann Kenya which now, as East African Educational Publishers Limited, is one of the strongest publishing houses on the continent. The project showed that small publishers who are able to gain access to commercial credit and who manage their finances carefully can succeed, even with interest rates as high as 30% to 40% (Priestley 1993, 216; Davies 1997, 86-9).

Table 6. Different types of aid to primary education, 1981-1986 (% of total) not availble

Major funders generally were more interested in institutional development than in supplying learning materials. They believed that direct support to pupils and teachers would be less efficient than funding central units for teacher training, curriculum development, and educational planning that could increase the effectiveness of the entire system (Colclough and Lewin 1993, 251). Books and instructional materials received only a small percentage of total donor aid to education (Table 6).

Major textbook projects, moreover, were directed to short-term gains to overcome immediate and urgent shortages. Typically, they lasted three to five years and gave little attention to building local publishing capacity. The size, urgency, and complexity of the projects precluded local publishers from participating. That responsibility devolved on ministries and parastatals which were themselves ill-prepared and which, outside the project's funding, were at the mercy of legislative budget allocations and government policy changes. There was no long-term approach, among funders or governments, to the sustainable provision of learning materials.

There was, however, a growing interest in cooperation among donors and funding agencies. They met together, formally or informally, to discuss possible joint projects or to exchange information. Some donors preferred that these meetings be held only at the invitation of, and with full participation by, the potential recipients of aid; others were satisfied to meet as a donor group and offer a package of assistance. Some recipients saw the second approach as unfair "ganging up" on recipients (Priestley 1993). Donors for African Education, which had been started during the 1980s as a donors' club to promote collaboration in educational projects and programs in Africa and thereby avoid competition and duplication, eventually expanded its membership in response to such concerns and, to emphasize partnership over assistance, changed its name to the Association for the Development of Education in Africa (ADEA). Its Working Group on Books and Learning Materials, established in 1989, included African ministries of education as well as development agencies concerned with book development and procurement (Treffgarne 1999, 20).

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