Text publishers have too much power

PUBLISHED : Monday, 23 July, 2001, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 23 July, 2001, 12:00am

I refer to Yip Ka-sing's letter about school textbooks headlined 'Students exploited' (South China Morning Post, July 20).

Why is it that almost all Hong Kong textbooks are consumable items? To me, the very word, 'textbook', implies some sort of longevity. But not here.

English-language books take the cake. Here we have Textbook A for term one, Textbook B for term two, Listening Books A and B, Workbooks A and B, and more to come in the new school year, spurred on by the excuse of curriculum reforms.

Why is it that the highest-profile seminars for teachers of the new English curriculum have almost all been conducted by publishers? Shouldn't schools listen to the Education Department's views on new curricula before they go shopping for textbooks?

Sadly, in far too many Hong Kong schools, we have come to the absurd situation in which textbooks have become the curriculum and the publishers' representatives have become the curriculum advisers.

Why is it that the Education Department, generally so careful to avoid commercial favouritism, is, by default, creating an environment in which publishers are seen to openly 'woo' the textbook decision-makers in our schools?


Chai Wan