JIS News

The Ministry of Education and Youth has allotted more than $890 million for the purchase of academic textbooks to be used in the 2006/2007 academic year.
In an interview with JIS News, Chief Education Officer in the Ministry, Adelle Brown said $315.7 million would be used to purchase primary level books, while $576 million is to be used to purchase books for secondary schools.
As such she noted, parents would have no need to purchase those books, which the Ministry will be providing free of cost, such as mathematics and reading books.
“The Ministry provides books mainly for the core subjects, so we always provide the mathematics and the reading books, so a parent for instance with a child at the primary level does not need to buy these books,” she explained.
In addition, Mrs. Brown emphasized that since the start of the 2005/2006 academic year, the Ministry had absorbed all the costs associated with the provision of books to students at the high school level, and therefore “no fees are to be charged to students for participating in the national text book rental scheme”.
Students previously had to pay $1,000 for books they procured under the rental scheme programme. Mrs. Brown said that the scheme had served to lessen parents’ expenditure on the purchase of books for their children.
The subject areas, she revealed, for which the Ministry will be providing 100 per cent of the books at the secondary level for the new academic year are; English Language, Mathematics, Social Studies, Integrated Science, Chemistry, Biology, Spanish, French, Information Technology, Principles of Accounts and Business, Office Procedures, Geography, and History.
Noting the high cost for texts, used in the technical and vocational (Tech-Voc) subject areas, Mrs. Brown said that for this year, only a percentage of these books would be available for rental to students.
“Because of financial constraints some of the Tech-Voc offerings, as well as other texts for Religious Education and Drama have been trimmed,” she noted.
“And it is not because we do not think that these subjects are important but the fact is that the texts for tech-voc subjects, are the most expensive, so we will only be able to supply 25 per cent of some of these books,” she stated.
The technical and vocational subjects for which books will be provided are; Agricultural Science, Religious Education, Drama, Home Economics, Visual Arts, Plumbing, Carpentry, Building Technology, Welding, Motor Mechanics, Clothing and Textiles, and Metal Works.
Exception will be made for students in Grade Seven who will be provided with 100 per cent of the books in the subject areas of: Agricultural Science, Home Economics, Visual Arts, and Religious Education.
Addressing concerns, by parents that some teachers primarily used books other than those provided by the Ministry, Mrs. Brown said teachers should refrain from this practice as it placed students who could not afford to purchase those books at a disadvantage.
“I am urging teachers to use the books which they ordered from the Ministry and we will not send a book that was not requested by the school.once that book has been chosen by the school and we supply it, I really urge teachers to use that book,” she asserted.
“It does not mean that another book should not be used, but the particular chapter that is needed should be photocopied and distributed to the students instead of asking students to purchase that book.as it is very burdensome on the parents,” she continued.
Meanwhile, the Chief Education Officer noted the importance of parents beginning their ‘back-to-school’ shopping early. She said parents should ensure that they prioritized their purchases, and buy those books that the children would be using earlier in the school term, such as literature texts.
Reiterating Mrs. Brown’s advice, Communications Officer at the Consumer Affairs Commission (CAC), Dorothy Campbell also said that prioritizing book purchases was the wisest way for parents to begin their ‘back-to-school’ shopping.
“The CAC is encouraging parents to go to orientation in order to find out what books they should buy first, for instance those subjects that require five or six books.and it just requires a little more effort from the parents, as the CAC can go only so far, the parents will have to do the ‘leg work’,” she said.
Miss Campbell emphasized that another benefit of shopping early was to get the best bargains, as market surveys had shown that the prices of books were usually higher at the beginning of the school term, compared to the summer period when old stocks were still available.
Vendors, she said explained, usually received new stocks at the beginning of the school term, which often yield higher prices.
In addition, Miss Campbell urged parents should pay keen attention to the titles and versions of books when making their purchases, as vendors were not required to exchange or return the money paid for books.
“An item like a book, the vendor is not obligated to exchange.and what we advise parents to do is to take along the book list because very often there are books which have the same name and author but there are different editions.and you have to pay keen attention to purchases like that,” she pointed out.