'Let parents help choose books'
Parents should be given the right to help choose textbooks for their children, an education advisory body urged yesterday.
The Committee on Home-School Co-operation said it was unfair for parents who paid for the textbooks to be denied a say over which books their children used.
'That's why publishers keep pushing up the prices of the books. Parents can do nothing but pay the money even if they are not happy with the prices because they have no right to say no,' said committee chairman Tik Chi-yuen.
'Schools are given all the power to decide which books the children should use. We know teachers are the professionals. But we believe parents should be consulted.' Public concern over textbook prices escalated after the Consumer Council found some prices had increased almost nine per cent for primary school pupils and 7.5 per cent for secondary school students. Both rises are substantially more than the Consumer Price Index inflation rate.
Mr Tik said the committee would write to all 600 parent-teacher associations to encourage them to participate in choosing textbooks.
'We will also be sending questionnaires to get their views on the role of parents in the issue,' he said.
'We believe teachers can shortlist the books suitable for students then, through the parent-teacher associations, brief and consult parents.
'Some parents may prefer books with good packaging, while others may want books with cheaper prices.
'The schools should then take the majority views.' It has been claimed some schools have considered what bonuses publishers were offering when choosing textbooks.
After the Hong Kong Educational Publishers Association placed newspaper advertisements defending its textbook prices, the Anglo-Chinese Textbook Publishers Organisation yesterday also spoke out.
The organisation said publishers had had to revise textbooks after the handover and the production of more Chinese-medium textbooks also raised its production costs.