It is a month since the new academic year began, and school textbooks have still not come out.
Some officials at the Janak Siksha Samagri Kendra (JSSK) said some retired employees work as middlemen, supplying paper from the Kendra to newly opened private publications for a commission. Others blame bottlenecks in printing capacity, the CA elections, load-shedding and strikes in the Tarai.
The issue of commission charges is not new. Some think the JSSK's decision to allow private publishers to print school textbooks was motivated by the opportunities for commission revenues, although the official explanation is that the JSSK alone does not have the capacity to print all the required textbooks.
Ramesh Bhattarai, director general of the Sajha Prakashan (the body responsible for distributing textbooks) said that officials at the Ministry of Education, Department of Education and Curriculum Development Centre are involved in lucrative commission deals. "We have evidence of officials taking commission from proprietors of the publications," he said.
Kanchan Press, which was previously blacklisted for using low quality paper, has been allowed to print books this year. "This is a good example of what's going on," said an official at JSSK.
The demand for school textbooks this year is about 2.24 million copies but not even half of this has been printed yet according to Bimal Aryal, director of the JSSK.