Textbook piracy controversy…President urges review of copyright laws at UN forum
President Donald Ramotar yesterday urged the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to examine the possibility of reviewing the copyright laws regarding educational materials, especially text books, if the world is serious about making education accessible to all.
A GINA release said that the Guyana President made the remarks while speaking during the launching of the ‘Education First’ initiative by United Nations Secretary General Ban-Ki-Moon. The initiative is aimed at increasing access to, and the quality of, education for children worldwide and for which $1.5 billion has been garnered.
According to the GINA report, speaking at the 67th session of the General Assembly in New York, Ramotar, who sits on the UN committee to oversee the initiative, highlighted the challenges developing countries like Guyana face, especially in making educational materials accessible to poor children.
“I am very happy to hear the investment that businesses are making towards education, but there is another area that maybe the UN can look at. It’s the question of copyright, which makes books and educational materials for children in third world countries and countries like my own extremely expensive…this is one area, if we are going to make education attainable for all, that we have to look at. We have to look at the question of copyright so that we can make children, under privileged children have the material that they can study on as well,” GINA quoted the Head of State as saying.
Cabinet Secretary Dr. Roger Luncheon recently admitted that Government has been buying pirated books from printing firms and companies that photocopy books to offset costs.
Five companies had tendered bids worth millions of dollars for the procurement of the pirated books.
But printing was halted after Attorney-at-law Andrew Pollard, on behalf of the British Publishers’ Association, filed an injunction in the High Court stopping all local publishing houses from printing and selling the pirated books.
According to GINA, Ramotar also said that Guyana, despite being a small developing nation, has made significant strides in its education sector by already achieving universal primary education, and is now working towards universal secondary education. “It is difficult, because our country has some remote areas, huge forests, because we are a part of the Amazon and to reach children into the remote parts is not so easy and not cheap.”