More Books with Less Hassle: Resources to Improve Book Procurement and Strengthen Foundational Learning

This title was the central theme of an event held on December 6 and moderated by Joanie Cohen- Mitchell, USAID.  The meeting aimed at communicating findings from a USAID-commissioned global study on the costs of books and the drivers behind these costs, and providing ten ways to improve book procurement and lower costs.

It was also to enlighten participants on new guidance and tools from the World Bank to support practitioners through every stage of the process, from design to printing to distribution. The first presentation was done by Emma Venetis, EnCompass and the second was presented by Penelope Bender,  Lead Reading Specialist, The World Bank. 

Key Issues raised  

  1. Reading as an extracurricular activity offers children mostly from deprived communities the opportunity to improve learning. However children are unable to have access to reading materials due to the challenges in book procurement.  
  2. Corruption is a major problem existing in the book supply chain right from planning, production, delivery and distribution stages. Corruption reduces competition which in effect does not allow efficiency.s
  3. The manner in which procurement is done influences the cost of books.
  4. Book procurement goals can be effectively achieved when countries are able to develop their book supply chain system, multiple bids are received and when the books procurement process is done in time.
  5. As part of the ways developed by the World Bank to improve printing procurement, it is suggested that publishing and printing should not be merged.
  1. The right standard technical specification should be used like the correct paper size and font size should be optimized for young readers when developing new reading books. 
  2. To reduce delivery problems, the terms that determine the responsibilities of buyers and sellers using international shipping (INCOTERM) for book procurement should be clearly stipulated.
  3. There should be effective publicity to offer enough time for bidding processes.
  4. There should be a migration from paperwork to a digital process that easily gives access to bidding documents.
  5. In order to improve printing, there should be effective communication with suppliers.

Ms. Bender indicated that the World Bank through its intervention programs is providing technical assistance for countries to source, select and develop quality reading materials for children. The programs include Read at Home which delivers reading, learning, and playing materials to children in  native languages in deprived communities.

Next line of Action

Read about Textbooks for everyone  and Traditional World Bank Literacy and Numeracy to learn more.

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