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EDITORIAL: Oh, to a book care scheme!

BEA DOTTIN, [email protected]

EDITORIAL: Oh, to a book care scheme!

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It is remarkable how many privileges, or what are sometimes called benefits, are available to the people of this country from the hand of the state, and are “free” at the point of delivery. Education right up to and including the tertiary level and medical care are two of the better known of such entitlements.
Sometimes one wonders if the recipients of the expression of such social concerns are as appreciative of their good fortune as they ought to be. Our current concern relates to the matter of the Textbook Loan Scheme and the fact that the textbooks are reported as not now lasting as well and as long as they used to, with resulting increased costs to Government.
In times past when the society was still mired in widespread national poverty, secondary education was something of a luxury, and the cost of textbooks was an added burden to those enterprising and far-sighted parents who by dint of personal sacrifice cut and contrived to educate their offspring.
The Textbook Loan Scheme was a godsend to parents in those days, for many a parent grieved that lack of books inhibited the best performance by many a student!
There are also stories of parents who set up textbook sharing arrangements, with one parent purchasing some of the books and the other parent the remainder in a cooperative effort.
We have long since gone past that era, but the careful and particular handling of the books must continue. The need to resell books in good condition spurred proper treatment of books in earlier times, and nothing should prevent parents and children from adhering to that code of care now that the books are almost free.
In this respect, we are and ought to be our neighbours’ keepers and ensure that books are passed on in the best condition possible.
Given the different methods of publishing with softer and less durable covers, there will be the usual wear and tear, but so critical is this state-funded privilege that students should always be reminded that the pages of the books should not be marked or highlighted if they are to be useful to succeeding users, who may benefit from a fresh perspective on reading the materials.
We know that end users of some social services cause wastage, very often not deliberately, but by less than thoughtful use of the schemes, and medical health care is one such example where cost controls have had to be put in place.
The textbook scheme is a unique opportunity where we ought to be able to train young minds to appreciate that each such privilege is a cost to the national budget, and that inherent in the privilege of the receiving the benefits of the scheme is a duty to ensure that such benefits are passed on to successive users!
Necessity prompted proper care before; social duty should dictate it now.