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Textbook shortage plagues major cities

Update: September, 05/2018 - 22:00
Students purchase textbooks at a bookshop of Việt Nam Education Publishing House, the sole textbook publisher in the country. — VNA/VNS Photo Bích Ngọc
Viet Nam News

HÀ NỘI — The 2018-19 schoolyear already started on Wednesday across the country, but a shortage of textbooks for the first, sixth and tenth grades is still reported in some major cities.

Parents in HCM City were reportedly running from bookstore to bookstore to gather textbooks for their children.

Major bookstores such as Nguyễn Văn Cừ, Cá Chép, Minh Khai and FAHASA were all out of textbooks for the first grade, although reference books were well-stocked.

Nguyễn Bích Thanh from District 5 said she only managed to get her first-grader two textbooks, maths and literature, out of the 22 titles in the textbook set for the first grade.

“I have almost managed to get my second-grader a full set, except for one textbook and one compulsory notebook,” she told the Dân trí online newspaper. “I have looked high and low and still couldn’t find them.”

Several retail bookstores in Hà Nội also reportedly ran out of textbook sets, throwing parents into a frenzy as they rushed to buy separate pieces from different bookstores.

The textbook shortage was also reported in the central province of Thanh Hóa.

Lê Thị Huệ, director of the Thanh Hóa Book Distribution JSC (FAHASA Thanh Hóa), said there were only enough textbooks to serve the demand of a specific number of parents who registered with their children’s schools in advance to buy them.

“Parents who did not order textbooks via schools may have to wait for the Việt Nam Education Publishing House (Việt Nam’s largest publishing house and leading education publisher) to restock,” she told the Dân Việt online newspaper.

There are two reasons for the shortage. One is the drastic increase in the number of students attending the first years of elementary, middle and high schools in major cities, said Phạm Hùng Anh, director of the Department of Facilities under the Ministry of Education and Training (MoET).

“Most of the bookstores running out of textbooks are retailers, not distributors of the Việt Nam Education Publishing House,” he said.

Second, in January the MoET informed the public about its decision to rewrite textbooks for the first grade and start using the new ones in the 2019-20 school year, some local bookstores decided to order fewer textbooks from the Việt Nam Education Publishing House, which led to the shortage, Anh said.

“The ministry has ordered [the publishing house] to increase supply and provide textbooks for all students in all localities before the new school year starts,” he said.

Nguyễn Văn Tùng, a deputy editor of the Việt Nam Education Publishing House, said the publisher would not let any student go to school without textbooks.

The Việt Nam Education Publishing House has supplied all bookstores within its distribution system first-grade textbooks, the sixth and tenth-grade textbooks, he said.

About 108.8 million textbooks had been distributed by the Việt Nam Education Publishing House by August 20, an increase of 3 per cent compared to the same period of last year, according to Tùng. — VNS

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