Outsourcing of printing will cost exchequer dear

Updated - June 14, 2015 08:09 am IST

Published - June 14, 2015 12:00 am IST - THIRUVANANTHAPURAM:

The decision of the government to outsource printing of school textbooks is set to cost the exchequer dear as the price of one textbook printed at market rates is said to be five times the rate at which government presses print the same book.

According to representatives of teachers’ organisations, each textbook would end up costing the government Rs.15 to Rs.20, whereas the same books could have been printed at government facilities for a maximum of Rs.5.

According to the organisations, 1,15,26,289 books have been distributed to schools. This leaves 1,29,08,247 books still to be printed. It is this task that the government now wishes to outsource. The outsourcing will be done by first handing over the job to the Kerala State Centre for Advanced Printing & Training (C-APT), which will in turn outsource the job to private printers. This is the same way textbooks for the higher secondary classes are being printed.

C-APT director Sajith Vijayaraghavan told The Hindu that the government had placed an order for 43.35 lakh books with C-APT. The final rate would be decided at the department store purchase committee meeting scheduled on Monday.

“The Kerala Books and Publications Society (KBPS) and government presses will print as much as they can, we will handle the rest,” he said. Kerala School Teachers Association president K.N. Sukumaran said that given the situation now, it was doubtful whether the printing and distribution of textbooks would be completed by August in time for the first term examinations.

“We have always maintained that the printing of textbooks is deliberately delayed so that eventually it will have to be outsourced. Now it has come to light that 1.29 crore books remain to be printed or distributed. For starters, the government is going to lose money for this because otherwise it will not have to spend even a rupee for the printing process. Students of classes 9 and 10 buy their own textbooks. For all other classes, it is the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan that funds the printing,” Mr. Sukumaran said.

Another 1.39 crore textbooks — volume two of textbooks — also need to be printed but they need to be ready only by September or October.

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