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Kerala trip to go e-book way

Bhubaneswar, Dec. 20: The Odisha State Bureau of Textbook Preparation and Production is planning to send a team of officials to Kerala to understand and explore the possibility of producing and distributing e-books.

The bureau is primarily responsible for the production and printing of textbooks for Plus Two students in the state.

Authorities at the state’s textbook bureau rued that absence of an in-house printing facility had led to several problems.

“We are compelled to outsource the printing responsibility to private parties, who often tend to dilly-dally with the timeline. They do not understand the importance of the timely supply of the books before the academic session,” said director of the state’s textbook bureau Nibedita Jena, adding that the bureau premises, itself, had sufficient space to set up the printing facility.

Jena said that despite going through a tender procedure for printing of answer sheets for the upcoming Plus Two exams, the private party was now reluctant to deliver the bureau the printed textbooks on the pretext that the paper costs had increased.

“They do not understand the seriousness of supplying answer sheets to the students at the right time. Had the bureau got a printing set-up, such situation could never have arised,” said the bureau director, adding that about Rs 4 crore was spent for printing of books every year.

“We are, therefore, contemplating if something such as e-books can solve the textbook printing problem. States such as Kerala and Karnataka have already started it successfully,” she said.

The officials were speaking on the two-day meet, organised here by the Commission for Scientific and Technical Terminology under the Union human resource ministry in association with the state’s bureau of textbook preparation and production.

Representatives from 18 states had attended the conference.

Discussions were also made on how to reduce errors in the textbooks by engaging better resource persons and proofreaders for the job.

The state’s textbook bureau also urged for mobile vans to facilitate distribution of the books to the non-accessible areas in the state.

“The states, from where participants have come here, have not only sophisticated digital printing technology, but also vehicles to supply the textbooks to the needy students in their interior pockets,” said Jena.

While two lakh books are annually supplied to the Plus Two students across the state, the bureau has so far published 1,400 books only.