x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 July 2017

Rules to ensure pupils get textbooks on time

The Ministry of Education will get a head-start on textbook distribution to avoid last year's delays

DUBAI // New textbook distribution rules have been put in place to avoid a repeat of last year's supply troubles that left many public school pupils without learning materials.

Some school administrators said they were still waiting for textbooks two weeks after the term began last year. At the time, Ministry of Education officials blamed the shortage on a faulty distribution policy.

This year the ministry has printed a 10 per cent surplus of books, more than 4 million, and will distribute these by the end of June to ensure there are no shortages when the new academic year begins in September.

Shaikha Khulood al Qassimi, the director of the curriculum department at the ministry, said they had developed a new procedure to ensure schools were ready to provide all the resources to the pupils.

"Last year, everyone was blaming each other: schools were blaming the zones and they were blaming us," said Ms al Qassimi. "There was no shortage, it was just a mishandling of the situation."

She said often pupils lose or "hide" their books, which schools then report as a shortage. "The schools have to develop a committee which will look into these cases," she said. "If a child loses a textbook, it will be replaced the first time but parents will have to pay for the second copy."

Guidelines detailing the role of everyone involved in distribution would streamline the process, she said. The number of books ordered is based on student numbers compiled by the ministry.

All books will be sent out to the education zones, which are responsible for dispatching the books to schools.

If a school does not have enough books, they have been asked to immediately report the matter to the education zone.

Mona al Jazairi, the principal of the Ahmed bin Majid School in Ras al Khaimah, said they would be given 10 per cent more books than they needed. "We hope they give us the books early so that we can sort them out before the next school year begins," said Ms al Jazairi.

She said some pupils had been missing books in the past and the schools had distributed photo-copied material until the hard copies arrived. "We will be telling the zone now if we have any shortage so that they can order it without a delay," she said.

This year, textbooks will also detail which material should be taught in each term to help prevent pupils falling behind.

aahmed@thenational.ae