Primary and secondary students are set to get new textbooks on the first morning of 2019 as over 35.21 crore copies are ready for free distribution.
Putting an end to the scepticism surrounding timely distribution of the books right after the election, the government has made all preparations in advance to be able to reach the books to 4.26 crore students from pre-primary to class-X.
The government started what it calls the "Textbook Festival" nine years ago, by distributing the books among students across the country as a gift for the New Year.
"Children who will come to schools in morning [today] will return home with a set of new textbooks. We have completed the preparations," Education Minister Nurul Islam Nahid told The Daily Star yesterday.
The books have already been dispatched to the educational institutes, he added.
"We started printing and sending the books three months ago.... keeping the election in mind. The last lot was sent on December 10.
"We knew that we might face some problems in the presses or during distribution if we did not start the work early."
The government has printed 35,21,97,822 copies of textbooks for the students of primary and secondary schools, ebtedai and dakhil madrasas and technical institutes, said officials of National Curriculum and Textbook Board (NCTB).
Over 9.88 crore copies are for primary schools and 18 crore are for secondary ones.
The government has spent Tk 1,082 crore for printing and distributing the books.
The NCTB gave the work order for printing the primary school books among 54 presses, including two in India. A total of 145 organisations were awarded the deal for printing the secondary school books.
"The quality of this year's textbooks is good," NCTB Chairman Prof Narayan Chandra Saha said.
He said the main concern had been to complete the printing and distributing early. "And we have done it well."
For the first time this year, the government has printed 1.24 lakh supplementary textbooks on agriculture for class VI to IX.
On the New Year's Day, the education and primary and mass education ministries will hold the textbook distribution programmes in different places in the capital.
The education minister would officially launch the festivities at Azimpur Government Girls High School and College at 9:30am. Primary and Mass Education Minister Mostafizur Rahman would hold a separate programme at Dhaka University central playground at 10:00am.
Amid persisting textbook crises, the government in 2009 decided to distribute textbooks for free. It has been distributing free books to both primary and secondary students on the first day of the year since 2010.
Since then the government has handed out over 296.07 crore textbooks.