The buck stops here

If there is one prescription against poverty and underdevelopment that is accepted universally, it is education. Put this into perspective for a country that cannot even avail its school-going children with basic textbooks, and no, not because of fund crunch. The problem is rather the culture of buck passing endemic to every echelon of Nepali bureaucracy. The official publisher of textbooks for government schools, the Janak Education Materials Centre (JEMC), has blamed everything but the rot within the organisation for its failure to deliver the coursebooks of grades III, IX and X — even two weeks behind schedule.

The list of JEMC excuses runs long: Election, load-shedding, overburden, sudden change in government policy, you name it. The buck has to stop somewhere. Why did JEMC take the responsibility if it was incapable of carrying out the task? Even more importantly, why did the government award the contract to JEMC? JEMC has now put a part of the burden on Sajha Publication (SP), the official distributors, Gorkhapatra Sansthan and “the private sector”. It remains to be seen if the distribution of printing responsibilities will solve the problem. But unless each stakeholder learns to take responsibility and until there is political will to punish those who renege on their promises, the culture of impunity, and the shortage of textbooks, will continue.