National book board says it is not empowered to regulate textbooks

Published by rudy Date posted on January 6, 2009

The National Book Development Board (NBDB) said it is not empowered by law to regulate the quality of textbooks used in public schools.

NBDB was reacting to a story in The STAR regarding a move by the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) to review defective textbooks used in elementary, high school and in higher education.

In that story, NBDB was identified as the government agency tasked to ensure quality textbooks in public schools.

Andrea Pasion-Flores, NBDB executive director, said the task of ensuring quality textbooks in public schools falls with the Department of Education (DepEd).

“It must be clarified that the NBDB is not a regulatory agency and is not empowered by law to have regulatory powers over public school textbooks,” Flores said.

She cited provisions of Republic Act 8047, otherwise known as the Book Publishing Industry Development Act of 1995, particularly Rule VII, Section II, which states that, “The DECS (DepEd) shall ensure the quality of instructional materials to be adopted in the public schools.”

Flores said that on its own, NBDB had initiated efforts to address the problem of defective textbooks in the private sector.

Last May, DepEd finally took action on defective English and Science textbooks used in private schools.

“Simply Science in the Next Century,” Grades 1 to 6 series, and “Harnessing Arts for English Today,” Grades 1 to 6 series, both published by Phoenix Publishing House Inc., were exposed by quality textbook crusader Antonio Calipjo-Go to contain numerous grammatical and other errors.

Calipjo-Go is an academic supervisor of a private school in Quezon City.

On May 19, 2008, Education Secretary Jesli Lapus ordered private schools not to use the two textbooks after a review and evaluation conducted by DepEd’s Instructional Materials Council Secretariat (IMCS) found them to contain “major errors.”

NBDB, Flores said, came up with a new rule in 2005 that enables the agency to cancel the registration of publishers that produce poor quality textbooks.

“Under this mechanism, a sworn complaint filed with the NBDB by a teacher, parent, student or concerned citizen that alleges at least ten (10) erroneous items on the complained book allows the agency to initiate evaluation proceedings over a publisher’s book, even without their consent,” Flores said.

“If the book is found to be of poor quality, and the publisher is unable to refute the findings, the NBDB’s Board of Governors can come out with a resolution recommending that the publisher stop selling the book,” she added.

NBDB also formed a Textbook Review Service where publishers may voluntarily submit their books for evaluation by a team of experts from a “center of excellence.”

Another measure to encourage publishers to produce quality textbooks started by the NBDB in 2007 was the “Quality Seal Awards” mechanism.

For 2008, Flores said the NBDB was able to include as a priority investment area the printing, publication and content development of books and textbooks.

“This means that incentives may now be awarded to those publishers who prioritize the improvement of the quality of their outputs, such as investing in research and development of textbooks,” she said.

“We hope that the end result of this effort is to be able to provide the public with quality books at low cost,” she added.–Rainier Allan Ronda, Philippine Star

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