In June 2021, the Minister of Education, Dr Yaw Osei Adutwum, announced the government’s intention to ensure 100 per cent of government textbooks for pupils in basic schools are printed locally. The idea behind this move, as indicated by the Minister, was to encourage and empower the book sector.
That announcement was greeted with approval from the sector. It is indeed great to develop the local book sector.
Publishers who have been awarded the contract of printing the textbooks were required to present signed agreements with a local printer before they were considered for the offer.
It implies that local publishers are strictly required to work with the local printers in the production of the textbooks.
In view of this directive, no publisher or printer can do offshore printing of textbooks, i.e. buy printing overseas.
The main idea behind this requirement is to encourage local printing.
In a reaction, the President of the Ghana Printers and Paper Converters Association (GPPCA), Mr James Appiah-Berko, indicated that the decision by the government to ensure a 100 per cent printing of textbooks by local printers was laudable and pledged that government would not be disappointed.
He also assured the government about the preparedness of printers to fulfill the task. In this regard, the President of the Ghana Publishers Association (GPA),
Mr Asare Konadu Yamoah, indicated the support of the local publishers for government’s initiative.
He added the need for the local book sector to grow, which could not be realised without printers.
In as much as the local book sector is enthusiastic about government’s decision, it is also important to ensure that the production of the textbooks will be of good quality, meeting internationally accepted standards.
Ghana Book Standards
It is expedient that publishers, especially those who have been awarded the contract, adhere to the minimum requirements for book production provided by the Ghana Book Standards.
This is an opportunity to prove to the government and the world that the local book sector is capable of competing at the international book market.
Both publishers and printers must ensure that quality is attained at each stage of the textbook production process (pre-press, press, post-press and even packaging).
Quality assurance should be the focus for executing the task ahead. Timeliness should also be part of the checklist in the execution of the textbook printing contract.
There has been an allegation from the Printers Association, as indicated in the Wednesday, April 20, 2022 issue of the Daily Graphic, that some publishers are conniving with some local printers to print the government textbooks outside the country, pointing out that there are some foreign infiltration with “juicy packages”.
Responding to this allegation, the President of the Publishers Association indicated that the GPA is committed to working with the local printers to execute government’s textbook contract to the core (Tuesday, April 26, 2022, Daily Graphic).
Mr Yamoah assured the local printers that such an incident of connivance has never happened and will never happen.
The concerns raised by printers may dwindle the vote of confidence the government has placed in the local book sector to execute the task of printing government textbooks locally.
Nonetheless, it is timely for the publishers to calm all fears of interested parties. The integrity of book sector players, especially the publishers and printers who qualified for the contract is put to test, hence it is vital that the allegation from Printers Association is debunked.
Those in the textbook printing contract should uphold integrity in the production process.
Both publishers and printers cannot afford to lose the hope and trust the government has in the local book sector.
It is, therefore, essential for all book sector players, specifically publishers and printers, to come together and work in unison to complete the great task ahead effectively and efficiently.