The Government has ceded 100 per cent of the printing of textbooks for pupils in basic schools to local printers. However, any publisher without an agreement with a local printer will not be considered.
Consequently, all publishers who are already pre-qualified have been asked to present signed agreements with local printers.
For a start, the textbooks to be printed will cover kindergarten to primary six.
The Minister of Education, Dr. Yaw Osei Adutwum, who disclosed this in an interview with the Daily Graphic in Accra last Friday, said; “Any publisher without an agreement with a local printer will not be considered in the offer.”
Empowering local printers
Explaining the idea behind the move, the minister said: “The whole idea is that we want to encourage and empower the local printing business.”
“That is why we want to make sure that they come with an agreement with the local printers, which indicates the designated location of the local printer,” he added.
Dr Adutwum said the government was aware of the capacity of local printers and was, therefore, determined that they get the opportunity to demonstrate their capabilities.
He gave an assurance that structures would be put in place to police publishers to ensure that no publisher nor printer took the contract outside the country.
Although he fell short of pronouncing punitive measures against any publisher who might take the contract outside the country to print, it was clear that he had some severe measures up his sleeve.
Dr Adutwum said so far, publishers had not made any request regarding permission to print a certain percentage abroad, as had been done previously, stressing that such request would not be permitted.
“We have taken this position because there are local printers with the capacity who are competitive,” he said, adding that he knew of some local printers who could easily match the offers the Indians and the Chinese were offering to publishers.
“The bottom line, for me, is that if we have those printers in the system, why would you want to go outside? And that is my point,” Dr Adutwum said.
Asked when the printing would start, the minister explained that it was a process, adding that the first step had already been taken, which was the pre-qualification, and the next thing was for the publishers to submit quotations.
Dr Adutwum acknowledged the fact that giving local printers the opportunity had a number of positive implications, adding that it would provide job opportunities for the youth.
Previously, the printing of textbooks was mostly done outside the country, with local printers complaining that it was a disincentive to local businesses.
In some cases, a minimal percentage was given to local printers, while the bulk of the printing was done outside the country.
In 2016, however, the then government decided that the printing of textbooks for schools would be done by local printers, and by 2017 when the printing actually began, more than 40,000 people were employed in the sector.
Aside from employment opportunities, the contract also afforded local printers the opportunity to build their capacity and expand their operations.