Cameroon: One Book Policy - Distribution Chain Still a Problem

A consultative meeting grouping stakeholders held in Yaounde wednesday, 9th october 2019.

Members of the National Council for the Approval of Textbooks and Didactic Material and other stakeholders, yesterday, October 9, 2019 during an evaluation meeting underlined that the book distribution chain from publishers to bookshops was not respected as well as the one book policy. This was during a consultation meeting between members of the National Council for the Approval of Textbooks and Didactic Materials, (CNAMSMD) and actors in the textbook chain of the national secretariat for lay private and confessional education.

The meeting focused on the balance sheet of activities from August to September 30, 2019, the compliance of actors to the official book lists and communication on notices of interest in preparation for the 2020-2021 school years. As far as the sale of books is concerned, it was realised that 89 per cent of books arrived in the market. But a problem exists between publishers, distributors and bookshop owners. The President of the National Council for the Approval of Textbooks and Didactic Materials, Jean-Paul Komon said this is a major problem to the council especially as they have only three distributors who even have financial problems reaching the required market. So far, Jean-Paul Komon said the Council had focused on establishing authorisation for publishers who had to function within the one book policy. However, at the end of yesterday's meeting, Council members began seeing the possibilities of issuing authorisation to other distributors who want to work with the Council.

The Permanent Secretary of the National Council for the Approval of Textbooks and Didactic Materials, Professor Marcelin Vounda Etoa told Cameroon Tribune that they have succeeded to apply the one book policy. According to him, this has enormously reduced the amount of textbooks pupils in primary school had to carry each day from eleven to three books. It was however disclosed that books not authorised by CNAMSMD still circulate in schools. He said parents need to know that they are not obliged to buy a book that is not on the official booklist and should immediately denounce school authorities who continue to introduce books that are not on the official booklist.

Prof Marcelin Vounda Etoa said the Ministers of Basic Education and Secondary Education have issued a circular calling on their collaborators to respect the one book policy especially those pedagogic inspectors who collect money from certain school authorities and publishers and introduce such books in certain schools particularly in private and confessional primary schools. The one book policy, he underlined, will not be changed and everybody must abide. "As for those who go against the law, particularly publishers, the ministers concerned will sanction them. But for now, CNAMSMD will remove them from the list of publishers approved to provide books within the one book policy in the country", the Permanent Secretary underscored.

The President of the National Trade Union of Bookshop owners and Papers, Apollinaire Ngassa, decried the issue of books in stock not sold and the fact that publishers do not follow the distribution chain which moves from publishers to distributors and bookshop owners who put the books at the disposal of parents. Some publishers, it is reported, still carry their books directly to certain schools or parents to sell while boycotting distributors and bookshops operators.

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