Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Cheaper school texts for Indonesia

A government minister in Indonesia, it seems, is intent on making school text books more accessible.
"How do you make school textbooks cheaper? The government has turned to a combination of old traditions and modern technology to beat book prices, considered one of the sources for the high cost of education in this country. Let's hope it works.

The new book policy, introduced in 2005 but for some reason still not widely known to the public, involves lengthening the shelf life of a book to a minimum of five years, buying up the copyrights of as many school textbooks as the government can afford and uploading them in digital form to the Internet and making them available for free download to those who need them.

National Education Minister Bambang Sudibyo, who explained the policy at a news conference on Friday, acknowledged there are bound to be winners and losers as a result of any new policy. In the case of the new book policy, the winners are parents and students through cheaper books. The biggest losers are book publishers and bureaucrats at the National Education Ministry who for years have colluded to make book prices expensive.

"There isn't going to be any monopoly over school textbooks. There isn't even going to be oligopolies," the minister said.

Extending the life of school textbooks to five years from the present one year would mean that books could be passed down to younger siblings, donated to poor families or sold to secondhand bookstores. The policy would also revive used textbook markets around the country."

Thanks to Vera Franz via the A2K list for the link.

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