Tue, 26 Aug 2003

'Something wrong with govt, publishers'

The Ministry of National Education is to issue a new policy which will ban direct deals between publishers and schools or teachers. It intends to use selected mathematics textbooks in a bid to standardize the quality of national education. The government has allocated Rp 150 billion (US$17.6 million) for the nationwide project and assigned eight different publishers to provide the textbooks. The Jakarta Post asked some headmasters to share their thoughts on the issue.

Ayadi, 34, is a principal at a private elementary school in Kranji, Bekasi. He lives in Jati Sampurna, Bekasi with his wife and daughter:

I don't know about the government policy. But personally, I think the policy would ease the burden on the schools to provide textbooks.

Instead, the parents will have to buy the textbooks. So far, we have assisted the parents in this matter.

However, I wonder why it is limited to mathematics textbooks. There is something wrong between the government and the publishers.

If the policy is to be seriously imposed, it should not be limited only to mathematics but include all subjects.

It would be far better to assign a government publisher like Balai Pustaka as it is a reputable company.

In a way, we consider textbooks a complimentary tool to instruction. The main point is the mastery of the teaching materials by the teachers.

Turiman, 52, is a deputy principal of a private elementary school in Bekasi. He resides in Duren Jaya, Bekasi with his wife and three children:

Frankly I haven't heard about the policy on mathematics textbook distribution here.

However, if it is implemented I don't have any problem with it, provided that there is not a profit-taking orientation among the parties involved.

Learning from past experience, I am afraid there will be irregularities in the textbooks provision between the government and the publishers under the new policy.

But I would agree if the schools deal directly with the publishers because it is more beneficial. We usually will get around 30 percent discount.

The schools can ask for a 5 percent discount for the students from the publishers and the accumulated 30 percent discount for the school can also be allotted for the students.

Under the new policy, I think it's impossible to get much of a discount from the bookstores.

Financially speaking, the school would not get any profit from the new policy. But the school would have less responsibility since the parents will have to go and buy them at the bookstores.

Diana, 38, is a principal of a private elementary school in Taman Galaksi, Bekasi. She lives in Perumnas, Bekasi with her husband:

I am not aware of the new government policy dealing with textbook provision.

I just wonder whether or not the bookstores can cover all the schools needs. It would be different if the publishers supplied the textbooks directly to the schools because they have a stock.

In addition, the bookstores will surely mark up the book prices to get a profit. It will burden the parents.

I don't know if there is some sort of collusion between the publishers and the schools. As school principal, I am not aware of the technicalities.

I only know the standard procedures. Before making a deal, we assign a team to study the textbooks offered by publishers.

With the new policy, I wonder whether there is any guarantee that there will be no more collusion.

I also wonder why the policy is only for mathematics textbooks? What about the other subjects? It seems the government is trying to force its policy on the schools, which to some extent can make the teachers uncreative.

I mean to say that the teachers actually have the capability to create their own books based on real experiences, rather than relying on the publishers.

-- Leo Wahyudi S.