As seemingly happens immediately I've posted a well-crafted article or memoir, I find a news item or remember an aspect of the topic I should have woven in which renders my pearls into pebbles.
A new school year has just got underway here in Indonesia and although school fees are supposedly waived in primary and junior high state schools - the compulsory years - school administrations manage to find ways cream funds from parents. School text books have been a regular earner, particularly as these have changed from year to year so that they could not be passed onto to younger siblings or friends.
With eminent, albeit belated, sense, the Department of Education has decreed that text books should remain current for a minimum of three years, which certainly allows for some continuity of familiarisation with the material for teachers.
dreamt up by the bureaucrats is for schools or parents to download government approved text books - available online here
. Although they are called eBooks, they are not designed to be read on handheld devices or personal computers.Under the new e-books policy launched in January, the ministry will buy the copyrights to 287 textbooks for elementary to senior high school levels this year and make them available for free download from the Internet. To date, the ministry has bought the copyrights to 49 books.
The ministry's new regulation specifies anyone can print, copy, distribute and sell the books, as long as the price does not exceed the maximum retail price set by the government.
All this would be fine if ....
If more than 25% of the population had internet access.
If every school had computers with broadband.
If the costs of printing and binding the books were cheaper than purchasing the books in local book stores, where they are available. (Ink can cost up to $8,000 per gallon
- $1,800 per litre. So quit moaning when filling up your vehicle's fuel tank.)Fitriani Sunarto, coordinator of the Independent Group for Book Advocacy (KITAB) said that instead of wasting Rp.20 billion
(c.$2.25 million) on the e-books policy, the government should reallocate the funds to the School Operational Aid (BOS) to allow students to obtain textbooks for free.Short Stories Online
The Guardian has published five short stories
, which can be copied and pasted into a documents. They are by Chris Ware
, William Boyd
, Tessa Hadley
, Alice Sebold
and, my favourite, Julian Barnes
*My linguistically challenged readers may like an explanation of my title. "Ee, by gum" is a Yorkshire dialect expression (pron. ee,bahgoom) denoting surprise. In English, 'bar' means 'without' and 'gum' is a type of glue. Thus eBooks.