Officials at the Ministry of Education have said that a recent audit of the secondary schools’ National Textbook Programme has saved the education system approximately $200 million for the academic year 2010/2011.
Speaking at a Back to School press conference at the Ministry in Kingston, on Wednesday (September 1), Education Minister, the Hon. Andrew Holness, said the audit had revealed a number of inadequacies in the system.
He said a new inventory management system has been implemented, which will monitor the distribution of books to the secondary schools.
“Before, we could not tell you what the inventory balance was at a school, now we have a central inventory management system, so we don’t need to physically go to the school to know, we now have a centralised database,” he stated.
Minister of Education, Hon. Andrew Holness, responding to questions from the press during a Back to School briefing at the Ministry in Kingston on Wednesday (September 1). At right is Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Audrey Sewell.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Audrey Sewell, also stated that, from the audit, it was found that there was approximately $80 million worth of books in the school system that were not being utilised and were not needed.
She said that approximately $120 million worth of books, that had to recalled, are currently being redistributing to other schools.
“We have implemented a new software that was developed by our Management Information System (MIS) team, so we will ensure that every book that is bought is logged and all distributions will be monitored,” she said.
She added that the Ministry has ensured that a Textbook Utilisation Officer is in place specifically for that function. The officer will monitor the numbers enrolled at each school, so that there is no oversupply of books to schools.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education, Audrey Sewell, briefing the media on back to school issues at the Ministry in Kingston on Wednesday (September 1). At left is the Minister of Education, Hon. Andrew Holness.
“That was an area that was a problem; the numbers that we were supplying were not in sync with the actual number of students,” she remarked.
In the meantime, Mrs. Sewell has noted that the audit has created a slight delay in the distribution of textbooks to secondary schools.
“We do not foresee that we should have a problem, because most schools have already given out their vouchers and are in the process of distributing books under the Book Rental Scheme,” she explained.
“We know that we are a little late but, by early October, all the books should be out in the system and we are ensuring that the books that are required for the first term are treated with priority,” she stated.
Additionally, she said so far books have been distributed to primary schools in five parishes, and it is expected that by Saturday (September 4) all primary schools would have received the required text books.
“Please note that the books that are being sent out to the primary schools are books that will be used in this term. When we have completed the distribution for books in this term, then we will start the distribution for the books that they will need for the following term,” she noted.