Sajha facing wrath of booksellers

Kathmandu, May 8:

With the start of new academic session, the demand for secondary-level books has increased and Sajha Publication (SP) has been finding it tough to handle the increasing pressure of book retailers.

General Manager of SP, the only body to distribute the textbooks designed by the Curriculum Development Centre, Ramesh Bhattarai said the problem of book shortage has become complicated and SP has been facing pressure from the book sellers.

Dozens of retailers visit SP to collect books everyday. But being unable to get the books, they threaten to padlock SP, he said.

Janak Education Materials Centre, the only centre responsible for printing all the books for the government schools, has yet to print more than half of the required textbooks. This year, the curricula of Grades III, IX and X were modified and the books of these grades are sparsely available. With the change in curricula, JEMC has estimated the need of around 22.4 million books this year.

The shortage was caused after JEMC was unable to print the books as per the demand,

Bhattarai said. Due to the shortage, the parents and students were pressuring the booksellers, he added.

He said JEMC had merely printed 10 per cent of the total books ordered by SP. There is a need of more than three lakh textbooks of each subject of Grade X, but merely 60,000 books have been published till now, Bhattarai added.

Hundreds of booksellers from across the nation come to SP and ask for books, but SP has been distributing only around 20-25 books to each of the booksellers, fuelling dissatisfaction among them.

After printing books, JEMC delivers the books to the SP office at Pulchowk, but the retailers are already there before the delivery, said Ram Krishna Bhandari, SP marketing and sales chief.

“As soon as we receive the books, we distribute among the sellers, “ he said. Until JEMC meets 80 per cent of the demand, this situation won’t get better, Bhandari said.

However, JEMC said due to the constituent assembly election and shortage of the printing papers, it was unable to print books and claimed that the shortage would end within 15 days.