Better Schools:
Resource Materials for School Heads in Africa
Selecting and Managing Textbooks
In the context of this unit 'textbooks' are school books intended for pupil use only.

Pupil textbooks are an integral part of the curriculum containing knowledge, explanation and exercises essential to the understanding of each subject. In this unit we consider different aspects of the management of textbooks, including their selection, distribution and care.

Individual study time: 4 hours

Learning outcomes
By the end of this unit you should be able to:
• know how to select appropriate textbooks for pupils within the constraints of finance and governing policies
• know how to ensure that the school is properly stocked with appropriate textbooks
• create a fair system for the distribution of textbooks to all pupils
• establish procedures for the proper care of books.

Principles and constraints of textbook management
Activity 4.1
(1) Identify as many principles as you can with regard to the management of textbooks, including their selection, distribution and care.
(2) List the main constraints you face in ensuring that each pupil in your school is provided with sufficient textbooks of an appropriate quality.

20 minutes

Some of the basic principles which should guide you in the management of textbooks in your school are likely to include the following:
1 The topics should be relevant to the curriculum.
2 Changes of standard textbooks should be restricted and spaced across a number of years.
3 A textbook should be either robust and have a long life expectancy, or be very cheap and be expected to last only the length of a course.
4 The choice, type and quantity of textbooks required is determined by the school's annual budget, pupil needs and curriculum requirements.
5 The value of textbooks must be appreciated by all who handle them.

Almost every school faces problems in ensuring the supply of sufficient textbooks of the right quality to all pupils. Some of the reasons why this is so include the following:
1 There are not enough funds to buy the textbooks needed. There is no guarantee that adequate funds will be provided in future years.
2 The chosen textbook is not available at the time and in the numbers required. Replacement copies cannot be easily found or purchased.
3 Within the school there might be insufficient expertise and knowledge to make a meaningful choice of textbook.
4 In some schools there is a lack of secure, weatherproof storage facilities.

Qualities of a textbook
Activity 4.2
A textbook usually consists of text, index, diagrams, illustrations and exercises.
(1) How important is each of these to pupils in, say, a Primary 1 class in Mathematics, or a Secondary 4 class in Literature?
(2) Explain what qualities we need to look for in textbooks in different subjects at different levels.

15 minutes

Although the nature and level of content in a textbook is important, so is the design, and this must be matched to the level of the pupils, the subject and the teaching/learning style which is being encouraged.

Criteria for selection
Activity 4.3
Make a list of ten key criteria which you think should be used in the selection of textbooks. When you have made your list try to arrange the items in rank order of importance.

15 minutes

Some of the factors which you have probably included in your selection included may be:
• suitability of the material for the age of pupil
• language level within the pupil's grasp
• good, clear, interesting expression
• cost within the school's budget
• durability
• content at the correct ability level and relevant to the course of study
• diagrams and illustrations appropriate to the pupil's experience
• good, usable index
• plentiful exercises: graded and relevant
• material is related to the cultural contexts of all the pupils and is free of bias.

Government policies with regard to the purchase of textbooks vary considerably. For example, subject inspectors, after consultation with subject panels, may compile a list of the required textbooks which each secondary school must order. Funds are made available for this purpose but the school can decide the number of textbooks and the supplier. In some countries publishers are under contract to produce specific textbooks which are then supplied direct to schools without consultation, whilst in others, all decisions about the selection of textbooks are left to school heads and teachers. In countries where parents have to buy the books the school can only recommend which titles should be purchased.

Textbooks may classified in two types : Pupil books and Class sets.

Pupil textbooks: These are issued to each individual pupil who becomes responsible and accountable for them.

Class sets: These are issued to individual teachers to be given out when the teacher requires them for a specific lesson or part of a lesson, and are then collected in at the end of the lesson. The teacher is therefore responsible for the proper care of these books.

In some countries where the government pays for the textbooks the main reason for deciding whether a textbook should be ordered as a pupil book or as a class set is likely to be differences in cost.

Activity 4.4
(1) Explain why it may be less expensive for a school to buy class sets than textbooks for individual pupils.
(2) Class sets have to be accessible to each pupil when required. Where should they be stored to enable this to be possible?
(3) How many books should there be in a class set? Check your answer because it may not be the same number as the number of pupils in the class.
(4) Under what circumstances might you have fewer books in a set than number of pupils in the class, and under what circumstances more?

20 minutes

Using class sets can be cheaper because one set of books can be used several times with different classes. Thus the ratio of pupils to books may be 3:1, instead of 1:1. If the system of class sets of textbooks is used, then the teachers must be trained as to how to operate it effectively as much time and effort may be wasted. The sets must be stored in the classrooms where they are needed. If one book is shared between two pupils then only half sets need be purchased, but if there are several classes and clashes in the timetable then more than one set may be required.

The question of cost may be critical, but it is also important to think about cost-effectiveness. If textbooks are only available in class, then how do pupils have time to read them at leisure in order to really get to know a book, or have access to them when they have homework to do. Class sets may reduce immediate costs, but we also need to know what effect this option may have on levels of pupil attainment.

Class sets are particularly useful in the provision of supplementary readers in language work, but also in other subjects.

Activity 4.5
(1) Do you know exactly how long textbooks used in your school last for?
(2) Identify the main factors which determine the life of a textbook.

20 minutes

The life of a textbook varies a lot. One of the key factors is who is looking after the book. A well bound book belonging to a serious pupil is likely to last much longer than a poorly bound book of a careless pupil who feels no responsibility for it, nor is held accountable by the school or by his parents. Other factors are changes which are made in the curriculum or the arrival of a new teacher with his or her own preferences. When resources are scarce then clear policies are required within each school which are then implemented effectively.

Local production of textbooks
Activity 4.6
(1) What proportion of the textbooks used in your school are locally written and produced?
(2) What is your school policy with regard to who a book is written by and where it is produced?
(3) What are the advantages and disadvantages of locally produced textbooks?

20 minutes

Locally produced textbooks should be purchased wherever possible. Local authors are most likely to know both the curriculum and the needs of the children, and local publishers may design and print books in the way which is most appropriate for the market.

Activity 4.7
A teacher has reported to the deputy head that a pupil has not handed in a homework assignment. This is her third offence. On investigating the case the deputy head finds that almost half the class are without textbooks. He then reports this situation to the head.

(1) Who may be responsible for this situation and why? Is it the pupil, the teacher, the head, the parents, the Ministry of Education, nobody or everyone?
(2) What steps could you take to alleviate the situation?
20 minutes

It may not be appropriate to spend much time blaming people. If we look at the situation more positively as a challenge rather than a problem, then we may see that each of these people may have a contribution to make to alleviate the situation. The lesson of this case should be that the quality of learning by pupils and their levels of achievement is closely related to the quality, availability and use of textbooks, and thus the quality of textbook management by the school head.

Activity 4.8
The annual order of textbooks has just been delivered at your school. You arrange the issue of textbooks to the various subject department heads, who in turn issue them to class teachers who issue them to the pupils.

Check what you and your staff do in each of the following areas.
(1) How are the books identified, so that one copy can be distinguished from another?
(2) There is another school in the locality. How is it possible to identify to which school the books belong?
(3) What steps are taken when a pupil wantonly damages a book? Are the nature and level of action related to the degree of damage?
(4) What happens when a pupil loses a book?
(5) Whose responsibility is it to check, and how often, on books issued to pupils and teachers?
(6) Whose responsibility is it to:
- report lost books to the head?
- charge for lost books?
- store surplus textbooks?
(7) What happens to textbooks which are truly surplus, redundant and no longer of value to the school?
(8) Design a book issue form for the pupil. Remember to leave space for the pupil's signature.

30 minutes

The care of textbooks.
Case study
The life of any book will be extended if it is properly looked after. Consider this case:

A carton of new books had arrived at the school for the library. The teacher in charge of the library was determined that pupils should be introduced to these books and learn to respect them and treat them properly. She asked permission of the head and then visited each class to give a talk on the books and their contents. In one class she selected a book, and opened it in front of the class, only to find that because the binding was stiff the book would not remain open. She took the book and bent it backwards, there was a loud 'crack' - the spine of the book had broken...

What should the teacher do next?
(1) Report the matter immediately to the head?
(2) Pretend nothing has happened and carry on?
(3) Say she has broken the book deliberately to show the pupils how easy it is to maltreat books?
(4) Explain to the pupils what has happened and why; that this thoughtless action will cost her money because the book must be replaced otherwise the pupils will be deprived?

Clearly the teacher has to set an example and so the last option is the best. Always remember care reduces costs.

Activity 4.9
(1)List ways of caring for books:
- when in storage;
- when being transported;
- when in use.
(2) Should pupils be allowed to write in books, mark pages or underline words?
20 minutes

The availability, quality and effective use of textbooks is one of the most important factors affecting the quality of a school. Textbooks support the curriculum by reinforcing and extending the work of the teacher. Thus good textbooks can lead to better teaching. Constraining factors which may limit textbook choice and reduce the frequency of textbook change are cost, and the calibre of the teachers in schools. It must be realised how important it is to have a system of textbook management within your school in order to maximise the use of this expensive resource and achieve higher levels of pupil attainment.