Recently, Media and public have been actively discussing the issue of new textbooks and their approval. Even though, the Ministry works with all stakeholders, there are some forces who try to make a political topic out of it. Respectively, the ministry believes that people should be informed about all important aspects of the process.
First of all, the rule of approval is related to the process of developing textbooks for the academic year 2018-2019. Approval is the first stage, when all interested persons prepare the draft manual; it goes through the evaluation process by the state commission of the best experts. The commission decides quality of which book corresponds to the requirements of the National Curriculum and Study Plan. It is important that for the first time in the history of approvals, the book becomes available for the specialists and teachers’ comments for at least 3 months before it is published. The authors shall be obliged to eliminate any defects identified during this period.
Herewith, regardless of the information spread, the program of free textbooks has not been cancelled and will not cancel. It is a part of a four-year plan approved by the government last year.
It is important to mention that the Ministry has been actively cooperating with all publishers, the concerns of publishers who did not leave the process and avoided their colleagues’ pressure were taken into account:
a. New format of approval has been developed, which means new instruments of appellation, equality and more transparency;
b. Unprecedented model has been developed to protect copyright-related issues by using a hologram.
c. The fee for contextual approval has been cancelled.
d. Simplified tender model has been introduced.
e. Penalties within the previous approval system have been cancelled.
f. Foreign publishing houses do not have a priority over foreign language books any more.
At the background of these agreements, some publishers are still dissatisfied with regard to the following issues:
1. By Georgian law, procurement with budgetary resources, especially if millions of lari are concerned, shall be carried out through the tender procedure. The Publishers are against conducting the tender.
Any claim that intellectual property shall not be subject to tenders is not accepted by the ministry, because there is a competition model in intellectual property area and it is widely used. Respectively, the tender principle, which is required by the law and serves to the public interest, will remain unchanged.
2. The second thing the publishers are strictly demanding and the ministry disagrees with it is the mandatory publishing of books for public schools. The factor of Intellectual property rights, as an argument, was excluded since the hologram will essentially resolve this problem. Respectively, there are number of entities remaining who want to control the process and disrupt competition.
Today, book production and printing are two different segments which are proved by some publishers who do not have their own printing houses and also, there are some printing houses which are not part of the publishing house at all. For example, electronic books do not need printing at all. Therefore, it is not necessary for the creator of the bestseller to also be its printer. Even in this situation, it is evident that some publishers do not want competition and new players on the market and do not like how the Ministry intensively encourages competition, because the books are created by authors and not the publishers. Currently, the ministry provides intensive trainings for authors and the projects turned to be quite efficient and successful. Besides, for the first time, it will be mandatory to periodically improve the books.
As for the funds, due to communication with publishers, the forecasted value of publishing-houses (without printing) has almost doubled with regard to the textbook approval and it is about 7.5 million GEL. However, we believe the price will drop through competition. Besides, every single Tetri that will be saved will be used for improving other directions of the study process – visual materials, laboratories, everything that is an integral part of the modern education system together with the books.
Consequently, it is absolutely clear that the Ministry will carry out all necessary steps within the ongoing reform to give the children the best education which meets the 21st century requirements.