Select Committee on Foreign Affairs Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence - Sixth Report


Memorandum submitted by International Book Development


  We have heard from the British Embassy in Georgia, with whom we have worked closely, that a visit for the Parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee is being organised to the Caucasus and Central Asia and that a brief from IBD on priorities for education and information might be useful.

  International Book Development Ltd is a consultancy company, specialising in the formulation of book and information development in the former Soviet Union, Central and Eastern Europe and the developing world. The company has taken a leading role in the analysis of book and information provision, primarily in the Education Sector, for the past 10 years.

  In countries where choice and competition in the supply of educational materials is a growing demand and where the old textbooks are increasingly irrelevant to new curriculae and unaffordable, the need for assistance to both the State and Private sectors and particularly to Governments is very urgent.

  IBD has worked with aid agencies and Ministries of Education and other Government departments in the following countries:

      1.  Armenia—on-going World Bank Education project since 1996

      2.  Georgia—on-going World Bank Education project since 1998

      2a.  Georgia—Study visit to Abkhazia to assess textbook needs and potential for integration in the project (1998)

      2b.  Georgia—Study visit to South Ossetia to assess textbook needs and potential for integration in the project (1998)

      2c.  Georgia—Exhibition of British Books organised with the British Embassy (1998)

      2d.  Georgia—Book Sector Study for the World Bank (1998)

      3.  Kazakhstan—Design of Textbook and Learning materials component for Asian Development Bank Education project (1997 and 1998)

      (4)  Kyrgyzstan—Study into textbooks and learning materials for World Bank project (1996)

      (5)  Tajikistan—Design of textbook and learning materials component for World Bank Project (1999)

      (6)  Uzbekistan—Work with Asian Development Bank to identify textbook and materials needs and policy (1997 and 1999)

  Most of this work involves several visits and work by consultants from IBD.

  In the list of countries to be visited, the only countries not so far visited or worked in by IBD (except in overall studies) are Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan.

  IBD staff are in frequent discussion on education policy with Governments in all other countries to be visited by the Committee. The extent of contact with British representation in these countries varies but IBD staff regularly visit Embassies (and British Council offices) in these countries to keep them informed and in some cases to work on projects together (eg, Georgia).

  IBD also has close contacts with both the publishing industry in the UK and with the publishing and printing industries in these countries (both State owned and private sector).

  IBD has been commissioned by the Council of Europe to write a report on the problems and changes in the publishing industries in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe and the FSU and recently completed for the World Bank a survey entitled "Progress toward Competitive Market-oriented Textbook Provision in the FSU".

  We could either provide a face-to-face briefing (although time is short) or provide some written background for any of the parliamentary visitors who are interested in educational publishing and information.

  Without knowing precisely what the British Government priorities in Education and Information are the following seem to us to be priority needs:

      (1)  Understanding by Western Governments and Book Trades of the structure of educational policy and of supply of materials in the Soviet era and the hurdles that need to be overcome to arrive at new curricula, teaching methods, materials supply, distribution and use.

      (2)  Understanding by the Educational establishment in the countries of the FSU of how choice and competition can be beneficial and why it is often a necessity.

      (3)  The need for support to English language teaching and learning through suitable materials.

      (4)  The need for support to the Higher Education sector for both student textbooks fand library materials, now that the need for and availability of Russian language textbooks is declining and budgets for books and information are so low.

      (5)  Advice to the printing industry (machinery, paper supply, new technology).

      (6)  Advice and training to the publishing industries, especially in finance, marketing and international rights (support was supplied in the early 1990's to Eastern Europe through the Know How Fund, and to very good effect).

      (7)  Training in the methods of transparent and objective evaluation in textbook bids.

March 1999

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