After spending some $249.6 million on textbooks for schools between 2010 and 2014, the Government will be seeking to introduce e-books to ease the heavy burden pupils have when they carry textbooks.
This was stated by Education Minister Dr Tim Gopeesingh in the Senate yesterday.
Responding to a question filed by People’s National Movement (PNM) Senator Camille Robinson-Regis, Gopeesingh said the Government spent $249,653,750 on textbooks since 2010.
Asked by PNM Senator Faris Al-Rawi whether there was any thought of having textbooks, especially those printed locally, available electronically, Gopeesingh said: “In fact just recently, through Cabinet, the Prime Minister instructed the Minister of Education to work towards ensuring that these textbooks are provided in the e-form so that the burden of having to carry these textbooks to the schools by students at an early age would be a thing of the past; and so I have already started discussions with the 24 publishers we have locally and ten publishers that we get books from internationally. So far it seems to be relatively rewarding. But further discussions are taking place and more information would be given as far as that is concerned.”
He gave the breakdown of Government expenditure:
2010 — 17,874,220.48 spent on textbooks: $13,451,578.50 for textbooks for primary schools; $4,422, 641.89 for secondary schools;
2011 — $35,662,000 spent on textbooks: $17,931,100 for primary schools, $15,450,000 for textbooks for secondary schools and $2,280,900 for special education;
2012 — Spending rose sharply, with $84,857,589.23 spent on textbooks: $46,454,477.98 for primary schools, $33,422,700.25 for secondary schools and $4.980,411 for special schools;
2013 — $70,028,613.10 for textbooks: $31,087,739.85 for textbooks for primary schools, $33,805,971 for textbooks for secondary schools and $5,134,902.25 for special schools;
2014 — $41,231,337.94 spent: $28,020,590.99 on textbooks for primary schools, $10,334,141.95 on textbooks for secondary schools and $2,876,605 for special schools.
Gopeesingh said 2,249,987 textbooks were purchased in the period 2010 to 2013 for primary and secondary schools. He said there were 134 secondary schools, 476 primary schools, 190 early childhood education centres and 14 Government special education and 11 private special education schools. He said the Government purchased material for all these schools.
The minister said 1,439,285 textbooks were purchased for the primary level in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013; and 810,562 textbooks were purchased for the secondary level in the years 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013.
Gopeesingh said in 2010, 354,642 textbooks were purchased; in 2011, 342,070 were purchased; in 2012, 1,193,148 were purchased and in 2013, 359,987 were purchased.
In response to a question on the number of Secondary Entrance Assessment (SEA) examination candidates for the years 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013, Gopeesingh said over the period 2010 to 2013, the average number of pupils writing SEA annually was 17,600. In 2010, there were 17,268 candidates; 17,280 in 2011; 17,863 in 2012; and 18,345 in 2013.
In 2010, 97.7 per cent of pupils were placed—92.4 per cent in Government and Government-assisted schools, 2.9 per cent in private secondary schools and 2.3 per cent in prevocational centres.
In 2011, 97.6 per cent of pupils were placed—92.8 per cent in Government and Government-assisted schools, 2.8 per cent in private secondary and two per cent in prevocational centres. In 2012, 97.9 per cent of pupils were placed—92.9 per cent of pupils were placed in secondary schools, 93.4 per cent in Government and Government-assisted schools, 2.7 per cent in private secondary and 1.8 per cent in prevocational centres.
He said in 2013, 97.6 per cent of pupils were placed, 93.1 per cent in Government and Government-assisted schools, three per cent in private secondary and 1.5 per cent in prevocational centres. He said an average of two per cent of pupils who wrote SEA and were 13 years and under and whose average composite scores were 30 per cent or less were allowed to repeat Standard Five and SEA.