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close this bookThe Elaboration of School Textbooks - Methodological Guide (UNESCO, 1989, 66 p.)
View the document(introduction...)
Open this folder and view contentsSchool Textbook Committees
Open this folder and view contentsSubmission of manuscripts
Open this folder and view contentsTechnical guide-lines for presentation and composition of text
Open this folder and view contentsThe final manuscript


The preceding chapters have analysed and, hopefully, lead to a better understanding of the problems raised by the elaboration of textbooks, as well as suggesting or recommending approaches or solutions which could be applied to the preparation of manuscripts. The way in which their elaboration is managed from beginning to end now needs to be envisaged.

In developed countries, school textbook production is usually undertaken by governmental or private industrial enterprises with the long experience, skills and capacities required to estimate and cover needs for books at the national level. The intervention of educational authorities is more often than not limited to an evaluation of the merit of texts published and their relevance to official curricula. It is primarily those responsible for educational content and teachers who choose and recommend school textbooks.

In most of the least developed countries, where no real industry or largescale market for books has yet been established, Ministries of Education usually undertake production of textbooks and their provision to schools. General policy adopted as regards school textbooks can vary:

- a governmental service or agency under the auspices of the Ministry of Education (textbook publishing organizations, school book centres, or specialised institutes) is responsible for all production activities and book provision;

- publishing or printing or sometimes both is sub-contracted to private publishing organisations, the governmental agency being responsible for planning provision of textbooks, elaboration of manuscripts and distribution of books.

- private publishing organizations are responsible for printing and distribution, the Ministry of Education undertaking the planning and elaboration of manuscripts.

Each of these modalities corresponds to a specific situation in countries confronted with the need to solve the crucial problem of lack of textbooks. According to whether capacities exist within the private sector to undertake certain aspects of production and distribution, governments are lead to adopt the solutions which best coincide with the needs of their educational system. However, it would seem that overall responsibility for the totality of production and distribution activities by a state publishing organization is, for many countries, a difficult undertaking, given the considerable financial technical and material resources required. Moreover, this modality implies the intervention of several Ministries (education, finance, planning) which can lead to problems in coordinating the different services involved, slow progress in decision-making, difficulties in applying rigourous production schedules, with not very satisfactory results. It also assumes the existence of personnel specialised in all the various production activities or that training in these domains is available.