15 April 2018

Ethiopia: Defected Books Cost Regional State 50m Br for Replacement

The Oromia Education Bureau has started developing content for textbooks and teachers' guide to replace disposed books. The books had errors in language and vague descriptions of words used in the books.

A group of 12 experts, selected from zones and colleges, started the preparation of the content for the Oromifa language textbooks mid last week. The books are expected to teach the Oromifa language to more than eight million elementary students whose mother tongue is Afan Oromo.

For the content preparation and validation sessions, that will be held with representatives from 20 zones and 19 city administrations, the Bureau allocates 1.5 million Br. The content preparation and validation sessions are expected to be finalised in a months time.

It also plans to print 10 million textbooks for the coming academic year. With a cost flexibility of 50 million Br, considering the contingency.

"We are adopting the national syllabus which was one of the shortcomings of the defected textbooks," said Efrem Tessema, deputy head of the Bureau. "Close supervision of the process and all the precautionary methods are going to be taken to avoid similar mistakes," he added.

The defected books which were printed with 27 million Br were meant to be used for the current academic year. Along with the errors in language and vague descriptions, the cover of the books was also another reason for the discharge of the books.

"The logo of the regional state education bureau was not printed on the cover, the books instead had the federal one, the Ministry of Education (MoE)," said Efrem. "It raised constitutional questions, as the regional state is entitled to prepare books for elementary schools."

The MoE printed the former books with the financial assistance from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The then Research Triangle Institute (RTI), founded in the 1970's and assists developing countries, researched eight regions and recommended the amendment of teaching guides and procedures at elementary levels.

The RTI was founded by the United States government to alleviate the nations lowest education status. After calling around 300 professors from the globe, the Institute found out that the reading, writing and calculating skills of the students in the researched seven states, were the base of the problem.

Basing the recommendation of the RTI, the Ministry gathered experts from the regional state which developed the content. However, the response from the localities was not as expected, as they claimed that the content does not represent them, according to Efrem.

The discontent led to the removal of the books and the reprint of 3.2 million textbooks this year. About 15,729 schools located in the 333 weredas and 19 towns were obliged to use the previous textbook for two years.

For Seyoum Kebede, dean of Jimma Teaching College, the previous mistakes were critical, and the disposition was choiceless.

"The defected book changed the alphabet structure from A-Z to start with the letter L," he said. "You start to teach from the easiest word to writing, but you don't have to change the natural alphabetic structure."

The Bureau will announce a tender in a months time, to hire a company which will print the books, according to Efrem.

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