Education Ministry denies e-books proposal was MSJ’s idea

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

David Abdulah. File photo/Roger Jacob

TWO days after announcing it is making efforts to create an e-book platform, the Education Ministry is making it clear that this was one of its ideas since 2021 after a political party tried to take credit for it.

On Monday, the ministry said new textbooks should not be added nor editions change on schools’ booklists for the academic year 2023/2024, and also that an e-book platform is being considered.

Then, on Tuesday, Movement for Social Justice (MSJ) leader David Abdulah said the ministry only decided to try e-books “after the call by the MSJ to do so.”

Abdulah said his party proposed e-books for primary and secondary school students at a press conference on September 4, adding that it was not the first time it had done so.

“The MSJ therefore led the way on this issue,” he said.

But in a press release on Wednesday, the ministry said it wanted to “clarify the steps taken” to procure an e-book platform.

“In January 2021, a Request for Information (RFI) on e-books was published, to which there were 42 respondents. The ministry subsequently held a meeting with booksellers to discuss and clarify certain issues surrounding the provision of e-books. The MOE took further steps to establish the availability of e-book platform providers from July 2021 and Cabinet approved the procurement of an e-book platform by the ministry through iGovTT on June 23, 2022.”

It said the request is being formulated and should be publicised in October.

It while the MSJ’s “endorsement of the ministry’s action…is duly recognised,” what it said was the inaccuracy of its timeline “requires the ministry to place the facts of the matter on record for the edification of the public.”

It said the platform is one of 13 initial projects in the ministry’s digital transformation plan for 2022-2025.

Others include digitising school records for primary and secondary school students and creating e-classroom accounts for teachers and students.

It said more information will be publicised soon.