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Georgian schoolbooks with political catch2010-11-08 12:28
Georgian Ministry of Education is trying to establish order in the schoolbooks market. Now the state will filter out non-standard textbooks and purchase those ones that have been subject to expertise, or "labeling". On one hand, the innovation is expected to solve the problem of providing children with textbooks, at the same time protecting copyright. On the other hand, the opposition suspects some catch in Minister Dmitry Shashkin's proposal: his initiatives often have side effects. This time, one should again beware of censure and monopolization of the schoolbooks market.
Minister of education has reluctantly made a step contradicting Georgia's liberal policy: intervention of the school textbooks market.
The innovation consists in the state certification ("labeling") of those textbooks that meet educational standards. Only these textbooks will be allowed for use at schools. Copyright will be automatically shared by the author and the government, editors being obliged to pay 25 percent of revenue to copyrighters.
The realization of the plan will start next year. The I-VI form textbooks will be the first to undergo certification; a tender for them has already been put out. In 2012, the changes will cover the middle and high forms. Each five years, Ministry of Education and Science will check the textbooks for meeting the general education program. The norm is 60 percent of the standard material for humanitarian textbooks and 80 percent for natural science textbooks.
Today, according to Dmitry Shashkin, the issue of textbooks has become an utterly profitable business, the market turnover being 60 million laris. Editors craftily organize deficit, making profit of as much as 300 and even 800 percent!
As a result, children coming from low-income families have got no learning materials. A week ago, Sofia Khorguani, a Republican, reported that children from socially unprotected families have been unable to get textbooks for a month and a half, though Ministry of Education has allocated money for schools. The schools were unable to buy an ample quantity of books.
One of these days, the minister has promised the public that by means of state intervention, the problem of textbooks supply will be settled within two years. "All the pupils of Tbilisi and Gurdzhaani will learn by the same books", - Dmitry Shashkin added.