Accra, Nov. 18, GNA - Education and Sports Minister, Yaw Osafo-Maafo on Friday expressed disappointment at the rate of supply of textbooks by local publishers who won contracts to print them. He said out of the 18 printing and publishing firms contracted by the Ministry to print books, only two had fulfilled and supplied the textbooks within the stipulated period.
This, he said, did not augur well for the academic development of the school children as most of the schools were without books, adding that the delay in meeting the supplies was dislocating the learning of the children.
Mr Osafo-Maafo was speaking at the commissioning of a 4.5 million-Euro plant and equipment for Fon Limited in Accra. The Paper Converting and Recycling Factory produces toilet tissue, school exercise books, photocopy papers and egg trays.
Mr Osafo-Maafo said it was Government's desire that at the end of this year every child in school would have the full complement of textbooks needed to facilitate learning and teaching in schools. The Minister, therefore, asked the printing and publishing houses to re-double their efforts and expand capacity to enable them to meet the publishing needs of the new educational reform programme. Government, he said, was committed to implementing the policy to publish 60 per cent of pre-tertiary books in the country within the next five years.
However, he said, the Ministry had no other choice than to look for alternatives if the local printing and publishing houses failed to deliver on their contracts.
Mr Osafo-Maafo said he was not happy that many local printers had to print books outside Ghana.
He appealed to publishers to send a memorandum to Government of factors that contributed to the high cost of printing books locally for consideration.
The Minister said the Government had already taken the step to grant duty exemption on paper that was used in production. Mrs Gifty Ohene Konadu, Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, asked local entrepreneurs to take advantage of the enabling environment created by the Government to expand their businesses.
Mr Frederick Ntim, Managing Director of Fon Limited, said although competition from outside would allow local industries to become efficient, dumping should be monitored and checked to ensure expansion of industries.
He said it was only when the Government embarked on policies to support and sustain local industries in terms of market access that its revenue would increase.