far as it is possible, the textbooks provided to schools should
be accurate and up-to-date. To ensure that resources are efficiently
used and to guarantee the highest quality product possible, a range
of planning and policy issues should be examined in detail before
committing to new textbooks. These issues are listed in the table
below according to where it is likely to emerge in the development
Table 5.1. Planning and policy issues to be examined
for new textbooks.
- Selection of subjects requiring textbooks;
- Use of national and local languages in instruction and
- Timing of curriculum reforms and revisions;
- Procedures for evaluation and authorization of textbooks
- Criteria for choice / selection of
- Choice of authors (preferably through open competitive
- Multiple titles of textbooks
- Availability and provision of supplementary reading and
other learning materials
- Professional development for authors, publishing personnel
- Open competitive bidding for printing and publishing;
- Pupil textbook ratio if textbooks are provided by the
- Appropriateness of textbook design for grade levels
- Technical specifications for paper, printing and binding
- Affordable and sustainable financing.
- Support for public and school libraries;
- Open competitive bidding for
- Practical and economical distribution methods;
- Regular and timely release of approved textbooks.
New textbooks are most commonly part of a curriculum
revision process and normally support the introduction of new and
updated content (learning) and methodology. This should be part
of a planned cycle so that textbook publishers are encouraged to
invest in supporting new curriculum.
In the case of donor funded initiatives for textbook
development, it is possible that donors will insist on international
competitive bidding. It should be noted that this can have the detrimental
effect of channeling funds for textbooks out of the recipient country.
In contrast, cooperation and co-publishing can speed
the transition to sustainable competitive provision of textbooks
and other learning materials. Co-operation can occur through the
adaptation of a textbook produced in a neighbouring country, or
it may be a joint venture between the local publishing house and
a well-established house in an industrialized country, involving
the transfer of publishing knowledge and skills as well as capital.
Policy trends in textbook development
In some countries ministries of education have their own textbook
publishing units. These are responsible for the production of all
textbooks with little or no reference to local or private publishers.
This strategy can be cost-effective and useful in countries where
there is not enough commercial market for sparking private interest
in the textbook business, but it has also some limitations to provide
a diversity of books, and to ensure quality.
Policy trends in textbook development reflect a shift
towards private, market-driven systems of private textbook publishing.
In some countries the role of developing, producing and distributing
textbooks already belongs to private industry which bases its books
on subject syllabuses. In these circumstances the role of the government
may be to:
- prepare clear and detailed subject syllabuses and textbook
- make them available for the development of textbooks;
- establish an objective process of evaluation and authorization
- decide the processes to be used in funding and distributing
textbooks to the schools;
- set minimum standards of production;
- perform the same functions with respect to other learning materials;
- protect intellectual property rights through appropriate legislation.
In these contexts, ministries of education need to
ensure that the quality of textbooks and other materials is of a
high standard and that processes of publication, approval and distribution
are conducted in cost-efficient and timely manner.