KATHMANDU: Corruption has crept into schoolchildren’s textbooks. In a starting revelation it
has been found that out of Rs 1,480 million allocated by the government for publishing and distribution of textbooks for some 6.4 million schoolchildren last year, none of the concerned stakeholders
has Rs 680 million recorded in any book.
What is on record is that Janak Educational Material Centre, state-owned publisher of the textbooks, and other 64 government authorised private printing presses altogether sold textbooks worth Rs 800 million in the last fiscal.
According to JEMC Director Bimal Aryal, it did transaction of Rs 550 million.
Likewise, NBSPU president Dhanaraj Acharya informed they sold books worth Rs 250 million
only. But the remaining
Rs 680 million is nowhere to be found in any record books, clearly indicating embezzlement.
“The schoolteachers and headmasters collect old books and distribute them to schoolchildren. But they make fake bills and later produce them at district education offices and get reimbursed,” said Acharya.
It is learnt that the school authorities even present fake figures of the students in their flash reports, according to which the Department of Education earmarks the budget to purchase textbooks.
Department of Education Director General Lavadev Awasthi claimed that DoE was not involved in
irregularities in textbook distribution.
“However, it is our duty to monitor and regulate so that the resources can be properly utilised,” admitted Awasthi.
Education Secretary Shankar Prasad Pandey conceded that the Ministry of Education should own up to the responsibility of the fund misuse as irregularities were rife due to the ministry’s weak grant policy. “Moreover, it is an issue that is directly attached with ethical values of teachers who are entrusted with inculcating moral values in schoolchildren,” said Pandey.
“We have already directed our regional offices and district education offices to carry out monitoring effectively to shun the practice of exaggerating the number of students.”
In mid-September, Regional Educational Directorates and DoE had conducted sampled data verification across the country in which several schools, in their flash reports, were found to have filed falsified reports.
But DoE has yet to make the report public.
Chairman of All Nepal Teachers Organisation, Lal Bahadur BC, demanded that MoE and DoE mobilise their monitoring mechanism at local level to keep a tab on schools.
Educationist Bidhya Nath Koirala stressed on the need of a book policy. “A book policy provides guidelines in textbook publishing and distributing effectively and it is the only solution.”