No textbooks in sight for kids

Slim pickings: Parents are travelling as far as they possibly can to look for school textbooks for their children. Many are complaining that shops have no stock of the books they need. — LOW LAY PHON/The Star

PETALING JAYA: The new school year has begun but there is a lack of school textbooks being sold in bookshops. Parents are frustrated as their children are facing difficulty following their lessons.

The problem is not new. It has been going on for several years. However, this year, the situation has been made worse as parents cannot travel beyond the 10km radius to buy the books from other districts due to the movement control order.

Selangor resident Amanda Tan, 40, has been struggling to find textbooks for her 12-year-old son at bookshops and online.

She said she was especially worried because her son would be sitting for the Ujian Pencapaian Sekolah Rendah (UPSR) this year.

“It is even harder to go around with the movement control order in place. And online sellers have not been helpful either, ” she said.

The housewife said some online sellers informed her that there is a delay in the arrival of stocks after she had placed the order.

Although there is the Textbook Loan Scheme (SPBT), Tan said some of the books were “damaged and unusable”.

A parent, who wanted to be known as Ahmad, 52, said he had been looking all over his district, then traveling out of state to get textbooks for his daughter who is in Form Four this year.

The delivery rider, who resides in Seremban, said after looking in various bookshops around Negri Sembilan, he went to Melaka.

Unfortunately, he said, he was told that the bookshops did not have stock.

“Even if they did, they won’t have the whole set of books my daughter needs, ” he said.

“It’s been very tough and I don’t know why. Some bookshops could not even give us an answer.”

“My daughter is in a tahfiz. Being in a private school, she is not entitled to the free textbook scheme, ” he said, referring to the SPBT.

He said he had been facing this problem for years “but this year, it is worse”.

It does not help that the majority of students continue to learn from home with limited interaction with their teachers.

“Thus, they need these books even more, ” Ahmad said.

He said he hoped that the authorities would look into this soon as a lot of students could not continue their studies as well as they should.

Melaka Action Group for Parents in Education chairman Mak Chee Kin said parents had been making countless trips to bookstores looking for the books but were told that they were unavailable.

“They have no idea when they will be receiving the new stock, ” he said.

“Many of the parents have also resorted to photocopying the books, ” he added.

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