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How are textbooks wasted?

The policy of “one program, many sets of books” with inconsistency, lack of science in implementation makes textbooks not reused, tens of thousands of books are used a year and then wasted.

At the end of April, Vietnam Education Publishing House announced bookshelves grade 3, 7 and 10 according to the new program, used from the school year 2022-2023. Besides the idea that the price the new book is too highmany parents on this occasion expressed their frustration when they constantly had to buy new textbooks instead of reusing them, considering this a great waste.

The principal of an elementary school in Hanoi shared with parents’ feelings, but said that the above understanding is not enough. Textbooks are compiled according to the general curriculum in each period. From 2020, the new general education program will be applied, so the change of books is “inevitable”. Before the release of new books for grades 3, 7, 10, grades 1, 2, and 6 were changed two years ago, respectively. According to the schedule, the remaining grades will continue to learn new books in the following years. By 2025, the change of books will be completed for all high schools. Textbooks will be used stably from here on as in previous periods.

However, Textbook waste is “not without”.

From 2019 and earlier, the general education program only one set of books textbook for each class. The current book has been in use since 2002, revised from year to year, but basically unchanged. Therefore, high school students in the period 2002-2019 can reuse the books of the above course.

But the mechanism of “one program, one set of textbooks” has changed according to the new General Education Program and the Education Law 2019. For the first time, Vietnam has implemented “one program, many book series“. The Ministry of Education and Training once explained, this is the way of countries with developed education, diversifying the approach to the program, attracting many talented people to participate in writing books, encouraging the initiative, Creativity in teaching.

In 2020, the new program’s textbooks will be applied to grade 1. In the first year of implementation, the authority to choose books belongs to the schools. Based on the list of books in 5 sets of standards approved by the Ministry of Education and Training, the school establishes a council, each subject selects a book.

Selected books are not required to be in the same series. Mean, The textbooks used in each school are different. Families who transfer their children midway through or have two children at different schools will have to buy a new one entirely, or buy some new books, instead of inheriting the whole set of old books like in 2019 and earlier. “This is the first factor leading to book waste,” commented a teacher with 15 years of experience in teaching first grade in Ha Nam.

Cover price of each book in the 3rd grade book series Connecting knowledge to life.  Photo: Publishing House

Cover price of each book in the 3rd grade book series “Connecting knowledge to life”. Image: Publishing House

In addition, tens of thousands of books only have a “life expectancy” of one year, because two out of five textbooks are out of print.

In the first year of implementing the new program, five sets of approved grade 1 textbooks include: Creative horizon, Connecting knowledge with life, Learn together to develop capacity, For equality and democracy in education (Vietnam Education Publishing House), Kite (Two publishers University of Pedagogy and Ho Chi Minh City University of Education combined).

After one year, when applying the new program for grade 2 (school year 2021-2022), two sets of Learning together to develop capacity, For equality and democracy in education suddenly “deleted”. The Vietnam Education Publishing House said these books were merged with the other two sets (of the same publishing house), in order to “reduce costs and maximize resources”.

The publisher confirmed that the merger did not affect teaching and book selection activities; The books of the two series that were merged are still being reprinted. However, in fact, when the authority to select textbooks is assigned to the provincial People’s Committee (from the school year 2021-2022), many places do not use the books of the two merged sets anymore. The price of each set of these books ranges from 189,000 to 194,000 VND.

For example, in Son La, in 2020, about 30,000 first-graders of this province will study Nature and Society books of two sets. Learning together to develop capacity, For equality and democracy in education. By 2021, Son La province decided to re-select grade 1 textbooks, in which the selected Nature and Society books belong to the Canh Kite series, which means that 30,000 Grade 1 Nature and Society books of the old series can only be used for one year. . Based on the cover price, these 30,000 books are about 600 million VND.

Currently, there are no complete statistics on the number of textbooks under the new program that cannot be reused across the country. However, some experts believe that the damage caused by these books could be up to several billion dong.

The principal of a primary school in District 3 (HCMC) commented: “This is a huge waste, but the fault is due to the publisher’s inconsistency in compiling the books.”

In the report on questioning activities at the 2nd session, the 15th National Assembly, the Ministry of Education and Training said that it would work closely with ministries, sectors and localities to strengthen guidance on selecting textbooks, textbooks, and training materials. training in the use of books to ensure flexibility, efficiency, and response to the new general education program.

Grade 1 Math Textbook, For Equality and Development in Education - one of two sets of books merged after one year of use.  Photo: Thanh Hang

1st Grade Math Textbook, Series For equality and development in education – one of the two sets of books merged after a year of use. Image: Thanh Hang

Not only textbooks, waste also occurs with workbooks and reference books.

When cleaning the desk for her son in grade 2, who is studying at a public school, Nguyen Thi Mai (Ha Dong district, Hanoi) was bored when there were 6 new exercise books, even though she had finished the exam. II.

Mai’s son is the age group to learn the new general education program right from grade 1. About 3-4 months before the new school year begins, the homeroom teacher sends parents a list of books to buy.

Although workbooks and reference books are not on the mandatory list, she and her parents still fully register. “If we don’t buy it at the school, we have to find it ourselves at bookstores, which is a waste of time, but we don’t have it,” explained Mai.

However, when her son finished 2nd grade, she saw a series of “untouched” workbooks.

Books that Mai's son did not use in the last school year.  Photo: Character provided

Books that Mai’s son did not use in the last school year. Image: Characters provided

Before this situation, Ms. Hoa (who has changed her name), a 2nd grade teacher of a public school in Ha Dong, explained that according to the program distribution, the workbooks are used, mainly in the afternoon class. However, the teacher admitted that it is “difficult to do” for students to complete all the lessons in these books, especially in the context of online learning most of the time during the past two years of the pandemic.

Also working in the field of education, Ms. Mai appreciates the change of the program and the new textbooks and workbooks. But the mother wants this book to be used to its fullest, avoiding waste. “Many books are not necessarily good. It is important to exploit and use them”, she emphasized.

Not knowing how to “handle” this pile of “old but new” books, Mai received a list of 3rd grade books to buy. Looking at the titles, the mother thinks “there will be unused books again”, but if she does not register, she is afraid that her child will lack.

“A few tens of thousands of dong is actually not much, but if multiplied by 30-40 students in a class, the amount of money wasted is also millions. On a national scale, how much will the money still be?”, Ms. Mai expressed.

Hang Tung – Binh Minh

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