Publishers must emphasise proofreading

BY: Anthony Kwadwo Kyei

Regrettably, proofreading has been downplayed in the country in spite of its importance. As a result, many publishers and writers of textbooks don't see the need to invest in proofreading.

Little wonder many textbooks and storybooks authored for schoolchildren are fraught with grammatical errors.

Having noticed some grammatical errors in my child's textbooks and storybooks, l once wrote an article entitled: "Who checks for grammatical errors in textbooks, storybooks?" in the February 11, 2019 issue of the Daily Graphic.

In that article, l stressed: "Undeniably, reading textbooks and storybooks devoid of grammatical errors helps schoolchildren to speak and write good English. In contrast to this, it is completely fruitless for schoolchildren to read books that are fraught with grammatical errors. Hence, those who author textbooks and storybooks for schoolchildren must be very mindful of their grammar."

I have highlighted the issue once more because it is getting worse by the years. Besides, l am deeply concerned about how textbooks with inappropriate contents find their way into schools and markets in the country, an issue which has triggered public outcry in recent times.

Proofreading

Basically, proofreading involves the correction of typographical, grammatical, punctuation and spelling errors in a written document.

It helps to correct any errors lingering in a text with a fine-tooth comb.

When a document is fraught with grammatical errors, wrong punctuation and misspelling, its readability, import and beauty are adversely affected, thereby putting readers off.

In contrast to this, when a document is proofread, it becomes suitable for communicating the correct message to the target group, that is, readers.

Besides, it helps readers to improve their English.

These clearly underscore the importance of proofreading textbooks and storybooks before they are published for schoolchildren.

Errors in textbooks

Factually, there are grammatical errors in many textbooks and storybooks authored for schoolchildren.

Unfortunately, the books are not proofread before they are published.

For example, not long ago, l became downhearted and irritated after going through my son's Religious & Moral Education (RME) textbook.

He is in Class Three.

The textbook was not proofread before publication, for which reason I spotted over 40 grammatical errors in it.

I am deeply worried because most of the errors are unpardonable.

For instance, 'wisdoms' appears three times in the book.

The author doesn't know an 's' cannot be added to 'wisdom' since it is a mass noun (non-count noun).

I compiled some of the mistakes and sent them to the author of the RME textbook via WhatsApp and admonished him to invest in proofreading.

In fact, the errors were disgusting, to say the least.

It is noteworthy that the following types of errors are ubiquitous in textbooks and storybooks: inappropriate usage of words (vocabulary errors), lack of subject-verb agreement (concord), wrong punctuation, misspelling, archaic expressions, wrong capitalisation, lack of consistency or harmony and combination of both British and American spelling, which is unacceptable.

Way forward

It is high time the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NaCCA) sat up in terms of assessing the contents of textbooks more effectively.

Aside from assessing the accuracy of facts and figures, it must thoroughly check for grammatical errors, wrong punctuation and misspelling.

Heads or operators of primary schools, including teachers, must desist from conniving with unscrupulous publishers and authors to sell error-laden textbooks and storybooks to schoolchildren.

Some textbook writers deliberately ignore the NaCCA to circulate their trashy books.

More importantly, publishers and textbook writers must emphasise proofreading in order to raise the standard and quality of their books.

The writer is a proofreader

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