This case study, titled ‘Textbook Quality and Distribution in Bangladesh’ takes a closer look into the textbook procurement and tries to understand the major challenges in the ensuring of quality textbooks. Text book distribution and quality monitoring is one of the projects where citizen engagement has been introduced under PPRP II. The report from the citizen monitoring group suggests that textbook quality has been a major issue in all the schools that were inspected by the committee.
Intro of the study
Public procurement is one of the most crucial areas of government operation which involves huge allocation of public funds and needs a considerable amount of technical expertise to be dealt with. This sector remains ‘most vulnerable to corruption’ and its integrity is threatened by the opportunities that exist ‘for both public and private actors to divert public funds for private gain’ (Beth, 2007). It is also stated that ‘public procurement tends to involve relatively few, but high‐value transactions. Compared to sectors with low‐value and a high number of transactions the procurement officers thus have more to gain on corrupt behavior (Ware et al., 2007 cited in Heggstad et al. 2010).’
The risk of corruption and pilferage involved in public procurement is more visible in case of some public works like public construction works or utility service provisions whereas in other areas it is not so easily identifiable. Educational procurement is one of such areas where problems are many but evidence is not. As OECD rightly argues, lack of data makes it even more complicated to assess the level of vulnerabilities in educational procurement (OECD, 2012). Amongst different types of educational procurement, textbook procurement is one of the most ‘risky’ due to its high priority, strict deadlines and high allocation of public fund.
This case study deals with procurement in the education sector, particularly procurement of text books and with a specific attention to production and quality of primary school textbooks and their distribution in Bangladesh. It will be important to note that textbook quality in this particular case study refers to the print quality and not the content. An assessment of content of primary school textbooks goes beyond the scope of this case study.
This year, as a part of the activities taken under the Public Procurement Reform Project–II (PPRP-II), the BRAC Institute of Governance and Development (BIGD) has developed and piloted a third party monitoring strategy in two districts of Bangladesh. Text book distribution and quality monitoring is one of the projects where citizen engagement has been introduced under PPRP II. The report from the citizen monitoring group suggests that textbook quality has been a major issue in all the schools that were inspected by the committee.This case study takes a closer look into the textbook procurement and tries to understand the major challenges in the ensuring of quality textbooks.