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Training Tools for Curriculum Development. A Resource Pack
Core Modules

 

Activity 1: Policies for provision management

 
  1. Policies for provision management

  2. Textbook evaluation and approval

  3. Supplementary teaching and learning materials

  4. Decisions about implementing
    e-learning


  5. The teacher as curriculum materials developer

 

As 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 process.

Table 5.1. Planning and policy issues to be examined for new textbooks.

Management
Preparation
Production
Distribution
  • Selection of subjects requiring textbooks;
  • Use of national and local languages in instruction and textbooks;
  • Timing of curriculum reforms and revisions;
  • Procedures for evaluation and authorization of textbooks
  • Criteria for choice / selection of
    textbooks.
  • Choice of authors (preferably through open competitive bidding)
  • Multiple titles of textbooks
  • Availability and provision of supplementary reading and other learning materials
  • Professional development for authors, publishing personnel and educators.
  • Open competitive bidding for printing and publishing;
  • Pupil textbook ratio if textbooks are provided by the state;
  • 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
    distribution
  • 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 guidelines;
  • make them available for the development of textbooks;
  • establish an objective process of evaluation and authorization of textbooks;
  • 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.

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