Cabinet awards $430-m contract for textbooks
CABINET on Monday approved the award of contracts totalling approximately $430 million for the procurement and distribution of textbooks for students under the Ministry of Education's National Textbook Loan Scheme for 2014/2015.
The contracts will be awarded to local companies Kingston Bookshop Limited ($233,615,387), Carlong Publishers (Caribbean) Limited ($94,000,878), and Book Wizard Limited ($102,374,500).
The textbooks to be supplied will be added to the Ministry of Education's existing stock that is loaned to students in grades seven to eleven and are expected to be distributed to schools in the latter part of August. Cabinet previously approved the procurement of books for students in grades one to six, and these are currently being distributed to primary schools ahead of the start of the new school year. This financial year, the Ministry of Education will spend close to $1 billion on the procurement of textbooks.
Schools will rotate textbooks on a five-year and seven-year cycle after which they are replaced by new copies. During these periods the ministry engages the services of local providers to repair books. In this regard, Minister of Education Ronald Thwaites has called on parents and students to ensure that textbooks on loan are handled with care. He also urged grade eleven students to return books loaned to them.
There has been a significant reduction in expenditure on textbook orders for the secondary level programme, moving from a high of $638 million in 2010/2011 to a low of $430 million in the current financial year. This resulted from the Ministry of Education's commissioning of an islandwide audit of the National Textbook Loan Scheme in February 2010. It was discovered that some schools were ordering excess quantities of textbooks.
The ministry said it was in the process of recovering the excess textbooks and redistributing them to schools islandwide.