Aid for e-book plan

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 09 May, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 09 May, 2012, 12:00am

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The government has finally come up with a plan to break the monopoly in the educational textbooks market.

On Monday, Secretary for Education Michael Suen Ming-yeung said that a HK$50 million subsidy would be set up to help not-for-profit publishers develop electronic textbooks. This is an attempt to rectify an industry dominated by a few big players.

The government hopes to set new rules and overhaul the market through the successful development of electronic books.

Referring to a study conducted last year, Suen said the financial injection would help the city catch up with the international trend towards digital textbooks when the market matured. Production costs could be halved if 30 per cent of schools used e-textbooks.

But observers say e-books will never blossom if wireless networking facilities at public schools are not improved.

Leung Tak-wai, a teacher at San Wui Commercial Society Primary School, which is running its own e-textbook trial, said a lack of funding for hardware would hamper the digital textbook programme.

Erwin Huang, CEO of WebOrganic, which provides subsidised computing devices to poor students, said the HK$50 million was just 'a drop in a bucket'.

'Developing electronic textbooks requires a lot of manpower to rewrite the current curriculum to fit the local syllabus,' he said.