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Textbook publishing house reap big profits each school year

Hundreds of million textbook copies are printed every year, and most of them are thrown away or sold to scrap collectors just after one year of use.

VietNamNet Bridge - Hundreds of million textbook copies are printed every year, and most of them are thrown away or sold to scrap collectors just after one year of use.


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MOET wants to terminate the textbook compilation monopoly



In 2016, the number of textbooks published by the Vietnam Education Publishing House amounted to 56.4 percent of total books of the entire publishing industry. In 2017, the figure was 50.4 percent. 

Thus, the number of textbook copies churned out by the publishing house alone is equal to the total number of books released by all other publishers in Vietnam. 

The textbooks are used for one year, and new textbooks will be printed next year.

Since textbooks are used for one year only, Vietnam has to print a huge number of textbook copies every year, hundreds of millions of copies. 

In 2016, the education publishing house churned out 424 textbooks with 188,788,810 textbook copies, accounting for 1.4 percent of total textbooks only, but 56.4 percent of total copies.

The figures were 2.2 percent and 50.4 percent, respectively, in 2017.

Besides textbooks, the education publishing house also has other publications, including books, leaflets, posters and calendar. 

Tien Phong newspaper cited a report as showing that the house issued 275 million publication copies in 2016 and 270 million in 2017. 

Its revenue was VND1.04 trillion in 2015, but the post-tax profit was VND29 billion only. Similarly, though the revenue was high at VND1.147 trillion, the profit was modest at VND72 billion.

The education publishing house has two big advantages. First, the market is large and stable. Second, it doesn’t have to pay VAT.

Prof Nguyen Xuan Han from Hanoi National University estimates that since textbooks are used for one year only, Vietnam has to print a huge number of textbook copies every year, hundreds of millions of copies. 

The Vietnam Education Publishing House is the biggest consumer of paper. The proportion of students using new printed textbooks is 42 percent.

An education expert pointed out problems in textbook compilation, printing and use.

First, the use efficiency is not high.  Each year, parents spend VND1 trillion on textbooks which will be put into trash just after one year. 

Second, the exercises are designed under multiple-choice forms. Students don’t have to explain how they solve problems, but just show results.

“This is really dangerous because it makes students lazy,” he said, adding that universities complain about the quality of high school graduates who don’t know how to explain their process of calculation to find results. 

“What will happen with pedagogical school students, who will teach students in the future, if they also become lazy?” he said.

Chu Van Hoa, head of the Director of the Publication, Print and Release Department, said that only when the monopoly in textbook publishing is removed will Vietnam have high-quality textbooks.


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