TETFund: Reorganizing local book publishing, by Rahma Oladosu
To be better equipped for the tests that the years in school will bring, read a textbook. To prepare yourself for the trials that life has in store for you, read a book. The importance of books in general cannot be overstated.
Generally, about 130 million books have been published in the history of mankind; a heavy reader will go through at best 6,000 in his lifetime. Most of them won’t be very fun or very memorable. Books are like people; we meet many but fall in love with few. Maybe only thirty books will really mark us. They will be different for each of us, but the way they affect us will be similar.
The book is a fountain for national integration and development, the great index of technology, government, politics, religion, economics, sociology, medicine, engineering for to name just a few. It is a veritable source of information for teachers and students, a mine of knowledge for researchers and academics, and a source of pleasure and entertainment for the general public.
However, the quality, quantity and diversity of the books produced by a society are important indicators of the level of development of this society. It is only because a book is seen as a catalyst for mental growth and social integration.
Having given enough emphasis on books and their importance, book publishing holds the utmost importance as the book publishing industry has a huge impact on society. According to Lai Oso (2000), “Book publishing is a serious business, a benchmark of a nation’s education, one of the basements of the cultural edifice, and an important index of national development.” Book publishing is an effective vehicle for development and positive change in people’s attitudes. It is the nerve center of education and it helps people to fully master their environment.
Looking back, the history of book publishing in Nigeria dates back to the establishment of the very first publishing press in Calabar in 1846 by the Reverend Hope Waddel of the Presbyterian Church of Scotland Mission. The press was used to print Bible lessons and later arithmetic books for schools. In 1854, another Abeokuta-based missionary, Reverend Henry Townsend of the Church Missionary Society (CMS), established a press. Five years later, in 1859, he used it to print Nigeria’s very first newspaper, Iwe Irohin. Subsequently, notable Nigerians like Herbert Macaulay established the first indigenous newspaper in 1926, called Lagos Daily News. Also in the same year, Daily Times made its debut.
In many Nigerian tertiary institutions, textbooks are the most widely used source of research, but students rarely find comprehensive materials in our locally published textbooks and would mostly use textbooks from overseas publishers. Textbook publishing is a holistic process that includes negotiation with authors and/or their agents, book design in collaboration with printers, book production, advertising and sales through booksellers and of retailers – collectively known as the book trade.
However, over the past two decades, the Nigerian indigenous publishing industry has experienced a downturn due to the many challenges facing the industry. Nigeria now shares with other developing countries a variety of problems plaguing the book publishing industry including: failure to supply sufficient numbers of high quality books, book piracy, proliferation unqualified authors-publishers, lack of capital, etc.
I believe that the time has come to revamp textbook publishing in Nigeria in general and in the higher education sector in particular. It should therefore be stressed that ensuring the quality of research output from senior academics in credible textbooks of international repute is an entrepreneurial activity that needs to be encouraged beyond the current remit of textbook publishing in the country.
A common misconception of late is that book publishing is going to die in the face of the continued development of information and communication technologies (ICT). However, according to Oso et al (2009), “Globally, traditional books will still be used. In fact, electronic innovations will help book publishing, they cannot kill it. It is therefore reasonable for publishers to consider how to apply new technology to improve book publishing.
To put a total end to this misconception and to solve the appalling book crisis in Nigeria’s lack of university textbooks, plagiarism and copyright violations, the availability of quality local publications is a first. safe step. Taking this first step, the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) through the Higher Education Book Development Project recently sponsored the publication of ten books in different fields of study in universities across the country.
Also read: On TETFund’s strategic investment in vaccine production, by Rahma Oladosu
Education Minister Malam Adamu Adamu, who unveiled the books, said the federal government was working towards ending the dominance of foreign books in higher education institutions across the country and further said the reliance on foreign academic publications in higher learning institutions portends great danger to the country’s education sector, adding that strengthening indigenous authorship will solve this problem. While commending the TETFund for setting up the project to address the shortage of higher level textbooks, the Minister commended the Fund for setting up the Technical Advisory Group (TAG) whose mandate is to work working with the agency to ensure the production of quality books by Nigerian authors.
Enthused by the progress of the project, the Executive Secretary of TETFund, Arc. Sonny Echono said he was delighted with the quality of the 10 books and said that 30 more Fund-sponsored books would be unveiled before the end of the year. He assured that the agency was ready to sponsor the production of 50 textbooks in 2023.
The basic purpose of book publishing is basically to expand the frontiers of knowledge from one generation to the next and to foster lifelong intellectual development. Publishing is channeled towards promoting learning and expanding knowledge. Based on this premise, the issue of book publishing must be taken more seriously than before.
However, with TETFund’s Higher Education Book Development Project, it is safe to say that the Nigerian government has indeed borrowed a leaf from its foreign counterparts on book policies to encourage locally published textbooks. for higher education institutions.
Rahma Olamide Oladosu is an editor at the journal Economic Confidential