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Distribution of Teaching and Learning Materials (TLM)

Teaching and Learning Materials (TLM) are instrumental in the process of raising awareness about others’ beliefs and fostering understanding of, and respect for, the diversity of beliefs present in societies and the world at large. They can help to combat prejudice, present pluralism as an asset, and encourage mutual understandings based on respect for the right to express one’s beliefs. They contribute to promoting tolerance, critical thinking in the face of divisive stereotyping and discrimination, and the independence of individual choice.

In many countries students either lack books and other learning materials altogether or are required to share them extensively with others. Without learning materials, children can spend many of their school hours copying content from the blackboard, which severely reduces time for engaged learning. Ensuring an adequate supply of teaching and learning materials is therefore of key importance.

References
UNESCO. 2016. Global Education Monitoring Report: Every child should have a textbook. Policy paper 23. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000243321

UNESCO. 2017. Making textbook content inclusive: a focus on religion, gender, and culture. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from:  https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000247337

Promising policy options

Financing textbook provisions

With such a high proportion of public education expenditure in low-income countries spent on teachers’ salaries, there is less predictable funding available for non-salary recurrent expenditures such as textbooks and other teaching and learning materials (UNESCO 2016).

Many low-income countries rely heavily on donor agencies for funding related to textbooks and learning materials, apart from governmental spending. However, this reliance is not sustainable.

One way of guaranteeing a more sustainable provision of textbooks and learning materials is to promote public-private partnerships. This assists in increasing capacity, leveraging more resources and therefore can be more sustainable, and share the risks of programmes

Another strategy is to collect accurate data and effective demand forecasting. This would increase the efficient use of limited funding and improve the likelihood of schools receiving books according to their requirements. Knowing the exact number of books required for a future school cycle, also increases bargaining power over costs. In addition, the lack of precision about how many books are needed and where leads to too little or excess production, meaning waste and increased costs. Accuracy could also lower the storage costs of holding extra textbooks (Read and Bontoux, 2015 as cited by UNESCO 2016)

The pooled funding mechanism could provide more and predictable funding for textbooks. On the contrary, the current pooled funding mechanism for education, the Global Partnership for Education (GPE), has not yet had the same success as pooled funds in other sectors in attracting more and predictable financing (UNESCO 2016).

For instance, in Rwanda publishers deliver books to schools directly. Since being set up, 98.6% of schools have submitted accurate orders and 98.3% of schools had teaching and learning materials delivered directly in Rwanda, in order to address large variations in textbook availability by location, a computerized system for managing textbooks has been established. Head-teachers are in charge of ordering textbooks from an approved list with funding provided on the basis of school enrolment, and publishers deliver books to schools directly. Since being set up, 98.6% of schools have submitted accurate orders and 98.3% of schools had teaching and learning materials delivered directly to their schools, including off-road schools, by publishers at no cost to the schools (Global Partnership for Education, 2013a; Read and Bontoux, 2015 as cited by UNESCO 2016).

A final strategy for financing textbooks financing is to increase funds for textbooks. Governments should spend at least a set minimum share on textbooks and learning materials. A recent World Bank study, 3–5% of the primary education budget and 4–6% of the secondary education budget is deemed the minimum level that must be spent on textbooks.

References
Fredriksen, B.; Brar, S.; Trucano, M. 2015. Getting Textbooks to Every Child in SubSaharan Africa; Strategies for Addressing the High Cost and Low Availability Problem. Washington D.C.: The World Bank. Retrieved from: https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/bitstream/handle/10986/21876/9781464805400.pdf;sequence

The World Bank. 2015. Where Have All the Textbooks Gone? Toward Sustainable Provision of Teaching and Learning Materials in Sub-Saharan Africa Teachers guide. Washington D.C.: The World Bank. Retrieved from: https://allchildrenreading.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/Where-Have-All-the-Textbooks-Gone.pdf

UNESCO. 2005. A Comprehensive strategy for textbooks and learning materials. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from:  http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0014/001437/143736eb.pdf

UNESCO. 2016b. Every child should have a textbook. Policy Paper 123; Global Education Monitoring Report 2016. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0024/002433/243321E.pdf

UNESCO. 2016. Global Education Monitoring Report: Every child should have a textbook. Policy paper 23. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000243321

The Abidjan Principles. 2019. The Abidjan Principles on the human rights obligations of States to provide public education and to regulate private involvement in education. Adopted on 13 February 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.abidjanprinciples.org/en/principles/overview

Reduce unit textbook cost

The cost of textbooks can be considered from two angles. There is the cost of providing one single textbook, the unit textbook cost, and there is the annual cost of providing one child with the textbooks required to adequately deliver the curriculum, the unit annual textbook cost (Fredriksen et al., 2015).

One way of reducing the unit cost per textbook is to move towards reducing corruption. The risk of corruption is high across the value chain for teaching and learning materials, especially before textbooks actually reach schools. For example, it is possible that textbook contracts are awarded towards procuring books of lower quality and higher costs.

Domestic publishing can bring down prices. In Viet Nam, the price per book is so much lower because it prints books in the country and facilitates competition among publishers to drive prices down.

Reducing the number of textbooks is another strategy. For example, reducing textbooks per child from 5 to 3, together with increasing durability from 1 to 3 years, reduces annual per-pupil cost by nearly four-fifths (Fredriksen et al., 2015). In India, if a primary school book’s specification gives it a four-year shelf life rather than just one year, the cost per textbook per year falls from US$0.36 to US$0.14 (UNESCO 2016). Printing quotations show that a textbook with a four-year life may only be 20% more expensive than that with a one-year life (Read and Bontoux, 2015).

References
Fredriksen, B.; Brar, S.; Trucano, M. 2015. Getting Textbooks to Every Child in SubSaharan Africa; Strategies for Addressing the High Cost and Low Availability Problem. Washington D.C.: The World Bank. Retrieved from: https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/bitstream/handle/10986/21876/9781464805400.pdf;sequence

The World Bank. 2015. Where Have All the Textbooks Gone? Toward Sustainable Provision of Teaching and Learning Materials in Sub-Saharan Africa Teachers guide. Washington D.C.: The World Bank. Retrieved from: https://allchildrenreading.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/Where-Have-All-the-Textbooks-Gone.pdf

UNESCO. 2005. A Comprehensive strategy for textbooks and learning materials. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from:  http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0014/001437/143736eb.pdf

UNESCO. 2016b. Every child should have a textbook. Policy Paper 123; Global Education Monitoring Report 2016. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0024/002433/243321E.pdf

UNESCO. 2016. Global Education Monitoring Report: Every child should have a textbook. Policy paper 23. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000243321

The Abidjan Principles. 2019. The Abidjan Principles on the human rights obligations of States to provide public education and to regulate private involvement in education. Adopted on 13 February 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.abidjanprinciples.org/en/principles/overview

Making textbook spending transparent

A transparent system will guide better spending with equitable distribution. It is important to know what is being spent on textbooks, teaching and learning materials by both government institutions and donor agencies. This can be done in the following ways:

  • adapted regulation, laws and institutional capacities in order to avoid bypasses and piracy, for instance, through a national book policy;
  • audit of the budget spent on textbooks provision. Corruption with publishers and printers can occur both on centralised system as well as on decentralised ones. Official audits are important to trace the money spent on textbooks, and ensure the sustainability of the provision;
  • decentralised offices of the ministry have to declare officially the number of textbooks needed so the budget can be traced, and provision can respect the exact quantity needed both in decentralised or centralised system;
  • giving schools or community accountability for holding official textbooks lists of orders and verify if they are respected. Community can also be accountable for audit tasks; and
  • assessment of the procurement process by professional officers regularly (for example, every four or five year) so progress can be measured and changes can be implemented. Smaller surveys more regularly to assess the exact level of teaching and learning materials (TLM).

Improving the capacity of Education Management Information Systems (EMIS) and other data collection methods would also help transparency, in being able to collect better information on domestic spending on teaching and learning materials with which to guide spending.

References
Fredriksen, B.; Brar, S.; Trucano, M. 2015. Getting Textbooks to Every Child in SubSaharan Africa; Strategies for Addressing the High Cost and Low Availability Problem. Washington D.C.: The World Bank. Retrieved from: https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/bitstream/handle/10986/21876/9781464805400.pdf;sequence

The World Bank. 2015. Where Have All the Textbooks Gone? Toward Sustainable Provision of Teaching and Learning Materials in Sub-Saharan Africa Teachers guide. Washington D.C.: The World Bank. Retrieved from: https://allchildrenreading.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/Where-Have-All-the-Textbooks-Gone.pdf

UNESCO. 2005. A Comprehensive strategy for textbooks and learning materials. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from:  http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0014/001437/143736eb.pdf

UNESCO. 2016b. Every child should have a textbook. Policy Paper 123; Global Education Monitoring Report 2016. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0024/002433/243321E.pdf

UNESCO. 2016. Global Education Monitoring Report: Every child should have a textbook. Policy paper 23. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000243321

The Abidjan Principles. 2019. The Abidjan Principles on the human rights obligations of States to provide public education and to regulate private involvement in education. Adopted on 13 February 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.abidjanprinciples.org/en/principles/overview

Making a cost-effective textbook policy and reduce wastage

Two types of funding policies for textbooks exist: consumer funding or producer funding. Consumer funding is when States fund the schools or parents for them to buy textbooks, encourages decentralization and diversified choice of textbooks according to the demand. Producer funding, on the other hand, is when the State funds the textbook suppliers, encourages centralized supply.

Regarding the provision of textbooks, there are four types of provision systems: State monopoly of one textbook, a list of approved textbooks by state, private sector monopoly, and private sector list of approved textbooks. The questions raised by each of these delivery methods are relative to the diversity of textbooks that can be offered. A list of approved textbooks can take into account the social diversity of the pupils and adapt to it, whereas the monopoly provides equal and similar education support to all pupils. The difference between state and private sector decisions is that prices can be lower if the private sector’s decision brings competitiveness, however, it can also be quite different from curricula.

A number of possibilities also exist for the productive chain. The textbook productive structure can be organized as a Public-Private partnership, as a State centralized decision, through competitiveness bidding or by the establishment of a State monopoly with printers, publishers and distributors in question. The decision of which model to follow is based on the country conditions and in the institutional arrangements in place.

In the case when the cost of producing and distributing textbooks is too high, some possibilities for the cost reduction of the process is to reduce the textbook’s size and the number of pages, to prioritise the subjects and core content, to make choice of the paper quality, or by opting to use four-colours printing.

A final way of making textbooks available for a wide range of students in an education system is to create a system in textbook loans, having a revolving fund or implementing a textbook rental system.

Monitor textbook distribution 

The choice between centralized or decentralized provision is usually a trade-off between bulk or local level purchases to avoid corruption and waste of scarce resources. Note that bulk can help decreasing prices of textbooks but local level purchases can better respond to the individual needs of each school.

When not all schools have access to textbooks, one possibility could be to reduce the ratio of textbooks per pupil: from 1:1 to 1:2 or 1:3 in all other schools in order to ensure full coverage of textbooks in all schools. Then, progressively aim at having one textbook per pupil. Conversely, another strategy would be to reduce the number of textbooks required per pupil for given subjects.

Textbook life is an important variable. Assurance of quality paper and covers means textbooks can be used for several years without having to be replaced. A final strategy is to implement a sanction system when pupils do not use textbooks carefully to encourage them to respect this teaching and learning materials.

References
DFID (Department for International Development). 2010. Learning and Teaching Materials: Policies and Practices for Provision. London: DFID. Retrieved from: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/67621/lrng-tch-mats-pol-prac-prov.pdf

Fredriksen, B.; Brar, S.; Trucano, M. 2015. Getting Textbooks to Every Child in SubSaharan Africa; Strategies for Addressing the High Cost and Low Availability Problem. Washington D.C.: The World Bank. Retrieved from: https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/bitstream/handle/10986/21876/9781464805400.pdf;sequence

The World Bank. 2015b. Where Have All the Textbooks Gone? Toward Sustainable Provision of Teaching and Learning Materials in Sub-Saharan Africa Teachers guide. Washington D.C.: The World Bank. Retrieved from: https://allchildrenreading.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/Where-Have-All-the-Textbooks-Gone.pdf

UNESCO. 2005a. A Comprehensive strategy for textbooks and learning materials. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from:  http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0014/001437/143736eb.pdf

UNESCO. 2016b. Every child should have a textbook. Policy Paper 123; Global Education Monitoring Report 2016. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0024/002433/243321E.pdf

UNESCO. 2016g. Textbooks pave the way to sustainable development. Global Education Monitoring Report: Policy paper 28. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0024/002467/246777E.pdf

CAST (Center for Applied Special Technology) and LD OnLine. 2007. Accessible Textbooks: A Guide for Parents of Children with Learning Disabilities. Accessed 5 June 2019: http://www.readingrockets.org/article/accessible-textbooks-guide-parents-children-learning-disabilities

PACER Center. 2011. Accessible Instructional Materials (AIM): Basics for Families. Minneapolis: PACER Center. Retrieved from: https://www.pacer.org/stc/pubs/STC-23.pdf

Stahl, S. 2004. The promise of accessible textbooks: Increased achievement for all students. Wakefield, MA: NCAC (National Center on Accessing the General Curriculum). Retrieved from: http://aem.cast.org/about/publications/2004/ncac-accessible-textbooks.html

Other policy options

Switching to open textbooks

Open textbooks are textbooks licensed under an open copyright license and made available online to be freely used by students, teachers, and members of the public. They are available for free as online versions and in a variety of file formats (e.g., for eReaders, editable files like XML and HTML), and as low-cost printed versions, should students or faculty opt for these. Open textbooks are a way to significantly reduce student textbook costs while giving instructors the flexibility to reformat and customize their course material. They are an affordable, flexible alternative to traditionally-published textbooks.

Some countries are considering substituting totally basic textbooks to e-material. However, this can cost a lot without having the expected results. Governments should rather use e-material as a complement to existing teaching and learning materials. For instance, in Uruguay, the government implement the Plan Ceibal in 2007. This plan consists in providing each pupils entering public education with a computer with free access to the internet at school. The devices include teaching and learning materials and aim at encouraging pupils to work via new technologies in an inclusive way. However, this plan rather improves equity among pupils, than educational outcomes.

The World Bank also initiated diverse projects to include ICTs in education. One example could be the program One Laptop per Child – OLPC- which was first implemented in Peru in 2012.  This program aimed at providing each child with a laptop and around one million devices were distributed. If results about the access to technologies are very optimistic, education outcomes are more mitigated (based on reading and math results). The World Bank also supports projects which are oriented to higher educational levels or to teachers, classrooms and schools management and monitoring.

References
Trucano, M. 2013. Mobile learning and textbooks of the future, e-reading and edtech policies: Trends in technology use in education in developing countries. Excerpts from the World Bank’s EduTech blog (Volume IV). Washington, DC: The World Bank. Retrieved from: http://siteresources.worldbank.org/EDUCATION/Resources/EduTechBlog2012_all_the_posts.pdf

UNESCO. 2014e. Textbooks and learning resources: guidelines for developers and users. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0022/002261/226135e.pdf

UNESCO. 2016h. UNESCO guidebook on textbook research and textbook revision. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0011/001171/117188E.pdf

OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development). 2012. E-books: Developments and Policy Considerations. OECD Digital Economy Papers, No. 208. Paris: OECD. Retrieved from: https://ideas.repec.org/cgibin/get_doc.pl?urn=RePEc%3Aoec%3Astiaab%3A208en&url=http%3A%2F%2Fdx.doi.org%2F10.1787%2F5k912zxg5svh-en

Updated on 2021-06-16

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