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With the unreasonable deadline imposed by the Department of Education on publishers to produce draft textbooks for Grade R and Grades 10-12, Riso Africa has stepped in to provide all assistance it can to accelerate the process. The company is printing the drafts free of charge for publishers including Media24 Books, Cambridge University Press and Oxford University Press.

Sonia Anderson, marketing manager at Riso Africa, notes that publishers usually have six months to a year to make submissions for textbooks for the next academic year. “However, without warning, government shortened that period to just six weeks for the 2016 year, leaving publishers with precious little time to write, edit and print textbooks. Furthermore, these six weeks fall over the holiday season, putting even more pressure on publishers to turn around their submissions.”

It is an emergency situation, she says, which has as its potential victims school children who might not get the quality textbooks they need to further their education. “We decided to make our services available to all textbook publishers to print their submissions at no cost over the holiday period; our account managers and machines are working hard through the holidays to help meet the deadlines imposed by government.”

The first step Riso Africa took was to contact over 130 publishers to see which ones were able to secure the services of printers in the traditional ‘close down’ period for the industry, and to offer its assistance to those left stranded.

Anderson says Riso Africa’s high speed printers are capable of producing A4 and A5 textbooks; with 6 copies of each draft submission required, and hundreds of books across the three grades, the number of copies runs into the thousands. “The situation that has arisen is most unfortunate; education is critical not only for the country, but for the individual children who will be affected should the deadlines not be met. As a result, we are doing all we can to help the publishers, regardless of cost.”

Henk Viljoen, sales manager at Media24 Books, says publishers only received information for the textbooks in November. “For any writer or publisher, these are extremely tight timelines to produce textbooks of high quality and in line with Department of Education requirements by mid-January,” he notes.

In addition to a great deal of overtime for editors and writers, many cannot go on leave. “The pressure is enormous, so the additional assistance being provided by Riso Africa is most welcome. Not only are all publishers standing together to meet what are effectively unreasonable deadlines, but we are seeing the wider industry step up to help us get things done; that’s the strength of good relationships between suppliers to achieve a positive outcome even in difficult circumstances.”

Anderson urges any other publishers requiring assistance in printing their submissions in time for the Department of Education deadline to get in touch with Riso Africa to avoid disappointment.

More information is available in the Mail & Guardian

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