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Punish corrupt syndicates manipulating textbook distribution, but who?

14 June 2021

Some syndicates of corrupt field officials of the directorates of Secondary and Higher Education, Primary Education, and the National Curriculum and Textbook Board in association with head teachers of some government and non-government schools-madrasas and corrupt book printers are making an estimated Tk 80 crore per year showing inflated numbers of students for distribution of textbooks.
It is reported that corrupt printers do not even print as many books, rather they supply books late by purchasing those from the stocks of Upazila-level officials of DPE and the DSHE. Officials sell the remaining surplus books to bookshops at Bangla Bazar and Nilkhet from where students of unregistered English medium schools, kindergartens and madrassas purchase them. Some parents said they purchase each textbook meant for free distribution at Tk 50 or more from Nilkhet or Bangla Bazar as schools and madrasas often take too much time to supply textbooks to students.
Extra stocks of free textbooks are found at some schools almost every year indicating that such schools take textbooks by showing inflated numbers of students. The National Curriculum and Textbook Board earlier used to publish 5 per cent extra textbooks to make a buffer stock. The practice was stopped last year after the board realised that some people were making money by printing extra textbooks.
A section of corrupt printers in collusion with government officials is reported to submit low-rate quotations to get textbook printing jobs. These printers purchase books from stocks of the Upazila-level officials of the DPE and the DSHE. Government officials sell textbooks to such printers at Tk 7 per textbook and at Tk 5 to book stores and paper mills. After purchasing the textbooks from officials corrupt printers supply those to their designated Upazila officials paying Tk 2 as a bribe per textbook. Such printers always supply textbooks late, sometimes even six months after the scheduled time. But they get the printing job every year.

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