K-12 Publishing


Towards a knowledge- based society…

Every year, this is the time when schools are busy with the books selection process for the next academic year? They need to understand that what are they evaluating the books for – quality, content, price, syllabus, or how relevant it is to the environment for which they are selecting. Sesh Seshadri of Overleaf Books LLP shares his views on the same. While making a selection process of books in schools, it is important to keep in mind the diversification, geography and economy. Price point is important as you have to see where you are selling and to whom.

Who’s making the selection?

It is important who is making the selection process – it can be the owner of the school, the principal or the committee of teachers. Whosoever takes the decision should have the subject knowledge.

Factors to be kept in mind by schools for selecting the books

One of the factors which would really come into play, apart from the quality factor is the affordability of the parents.

A large portion of schools do not know how to evaluate the textbooks. They just ask whether it adheres to the syllabus or not, the moment they know it is, they accept it. How many people really sit down and compare content vs syllabus before making a decision?

Factors to be kept in mind by publishers before approaching the schools

Many places I have seen that the sales people do not know whether is a primary or a secondary school and they end up giving samples of the books of higher grade. Another example is that most boarding schools start from grade 4, but I have seen sales people of few publishers giving away samples of books for grades 1-5. So, the question for publishers is that are we doing enough research before going into school?

The need of the day…

Is there a way publishers are trying to educate schools on the selection process? No. Publishers do conduct workshops on enhancing the teaching abilities on various subjects like Mathematics, Science, etc but they do not conduct any workshops on evaluating the books.

Also, another important factor in the K-12 publishing is that UP government had announced that it will give free books to 190,000 schools. But so far, only 65% students got them. My point is that why can’t there be PPP (public-private partnership) in course materials between private enterprise and government which might improve quality and efficiency. Infact, K-12 education system needs complete rethinking in terms of providing resources.

Reading for pleasure…

Government is the biggest publisher of books; but they are only textbooks and not publishing for pleasure. This is because textbook publishing is more profitable than others. But, where is the social contribution from the state? Each State Government should publish books with an aim to increase reading habit. Why leave it to NBT and CBT? Why not at the State level?

If Rs 26000 crore is our size of market, 90% is exam-driver, how and who’s going to make the change from reading for examination to reading for pleasure – is it the system, parent, policy maker or the child? If that change doesn’t happen, we will continue to have a society of fact based education and not knowledge based education.

Five Education themes that trended in 2016

These trends will continue to impact the sector in 2017 as well, says Sivaramakrishnan V, managing director, Oxford University Press India.

The year 2016 was a vibrant one for the education sector. Several new developments took place and a gamut of themes and issues gathered pace to further transform the education landscape for the better. The two biggest beneficiaries of these changes have been the learner, who is at the centre of the learning eco-system, and the teacher, who is the principal pivot in this eco-system. Below are the top 5 themes that we believe dominated the education landscape in 2016 and will continue to impact the sector through 2017 as well.

Integrated and theme-based learning: Integrated learning solutions that seamlessly combine print and digital modes have made their presence felt and will potentially disrupt the school education sector in a big way this year. In addition to print and digital integration, it is important for such solutions to be teacher-friendly, assessment-enabled, theme or activity-based, among other things. Theme-based learning modules enable contextual learning through a cross-disciplinary approach which aids conceptual clarity for the learner. This approach will probably be the biggest disrupter in modern-day schooling, if delivered to high quality standards with adequate teacher support.

Assessments: Assessments are today established as a potent tool to not just measure the learner’s performance but also modulate the overall teaching strategy, especially with the help of analytics in formative assessments. The year 2016 saw a massive focus on measurement of student outcomes and performance, in both online and offline mediums. Integrated and more developed assessment solutions that provide detailed analytics on student performance should get further traction in 2017.

Professional development of teachers: There was a lot of focus on professional development of teachers in 2016, starting with the introduction of the Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya New Teachers Training Programme announced by the Government in the Union Budget of 2016. A continued focus on the professional development of teachers through a combination of online and offline learning modules is critical, given their pivotal role and contribution in the education eco-system.

Bilingual as medium of learning for young adults: India has a large and very diverse learner base which is multilingual. In order to expand reach, it becomes imperative for learning organizations to develop content that is either in the native language of the learner or bilingual recognising that commerce and industry uses the English language. Experiments have shown that the use of mother tongue while delivering learning instructions enables faster and better understanding of learning outcomes, especially in the case of young adults. Given India’s young demographic and their linguistic characteristics, bilingual learning material is probably more relevant than ever before!

Digital proliferation in education: The Internet and its proliferation, and affordable and accessible devices have redefined learning ability unconstrained by factors like time and place. While digital proliferation in education is not a new trend, it saw a bigger push in 2016. Digital Literacy Mission was announced as part of the Union Budget 2016 to cover 60 million rural households within the next 3 years. ‘Digital Highways’ that are being created as part of the ‘Digital India Mission’ will play an important role in connecting ‘India and Bharat’. We do believe that the full impact of digitization in education will play out even stronger in 2017 and beyond.

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