Where were the editors of the textbooks?
One of the proudest achievements of the present government has been the annual distribution of textbooks to schoolchildren all over the country. The fact that the exercise has gone on New Year's Day every year has been an occasion of happiness for students, teachers and guardians everywhere. The distribution of textbooks has therefore been a measure of the standards the country has set for itself where education is concerned. Both the prime minister and the education minister are to be commended on shaping and implementing the strategy.
Despite all this cheerful development, however, the fact that errors have been creeping into the textbooks is an issue of grave concern for citizens. This year the errors appear to have been a little too many, leaving guardians, teachers and students in a state of understandable anger. The government has promised action against those responsible for the mistakes in the books, which is fine. The education minister has acknowledged the fact that errors are there in the books and that those responsible for them will be duly punished. That too is all right, for negligence in such a vital area as education cannot and must not be tolerated. While all this has gone on, we understand that some unintended humour has crept into the textbooks, especially in relation to whether or not goats can climb trees. Even Minister Nurul Islam Nahid has had to come in to explain that the issue of a goat climbing a tree was an invention on Facebook but was not so in the textbooks.
In other words, a whole lot of discussion across many levels has been going on about the textbooks. The most important point here, however, relates to what the little boys and little girls who have the textbooks in hand now do about the mistakes. We understand that in some cases new pages, with the corrections made, will replace those containing the errors. The question is: how will that be done without the textbooks getting mutilated in the process? Now, even if a wholesale reproduction of the books is considered, that will take time and will surely lead to academic chaos. But, again, do we have to be in a situation where the young will study the books they have in hand with all the errors they contain?
The authorities have gone for action against certain individuals over the errors issue. But our query is simply one of whether or not any editing was done on the textbooks before they went into publication? In such a situation as the publication of books for schools, colleges and universities, it is expected that teams of editors will be around to go through the contents minutely before orders are finally placed for the production of the books. To what extent was such a procedure followed in the present case? If indeed there were no editors, or if editors were there but did not do their job, the education ministry owes an explanation to the public on the matter. A cavalier attitude will not do, for the matter revolves around the education and upbringing of the very young. We must not let them down.
Let the issue be debated and deliberated on so that in future we do not have to be embarrassed again.