Lapid files bill allowing digitization of required textbooks

Published October 19, 2020, 3:08 PM

by Mario Casayuran

As books are limited in number and students in public schools are forced to share or borrow from one another, Senator Manuel “Lito” Lapid today filed a bill which seeks to mandate the publishers participating in the government’s Public School Textbook Program to allow the scanning or conversion into e-books and other digital formats, in part or in full, of their approved textbooks. 


“In fact, even in today’s blended learning set-up, sharing of learning materials among groups of students is still the trend because of the shortage of printed modules,” Lapid said . 

Lapid’s Senate Bill (SB) 1881seeks to amend Republic Act (RA) 8047 or the “Book Publishing Industry Development Act.”

“Batid ko na matagal ng problema sa ating mga pampublikong paaralan ang kakulangan sa mga libro at ngayon sa mga module. Mula noon hanggang ngayon, hindi naging 1:1 ang ratio ng pamimigay ng libro o module sa ating mga mag-aaral. Sa panahong ito na delikado ang paglaganap ng covid-19 virus, mas mainam kung maisalin na lamang sa e-books o digital format ang mga libro para ligtas ang bawat estudyante at magagamit nila ito gaano man nila kadalas kailanganin nang hindi nagmamadali dahil may iba pa silang kaklase na kailangang manghiram ng module o libro,’’ Lapid explained. (I know that the shortage of books has been a problem for a long time in our public schools and now in modiles. Since then until now, 1:1 ratio had never happened in the distribution of books or modules in our schools. At this time of the COVID-19 crisis, it is better to convert the books into e-books or digital format to ensure the safety of the students.) 

The senator from Pampanga stated that while the budgetary support to address these problems in printing, publishing and distribution of learning modules and textbooks must be prioritized, it is important for the government to take the initiative in using already available technologies and innovations that can temporarily fill the gap. An example of such technology is the digitization of textbooks and modules into electronic copies or e-books and other digital formats. 

Once the textbooks or modules become available in digital format, opportunities are afforded to students to have access to the contents of these books without the need for borrowing from the school library or from another student, or waiting for his/her turn in reading the shared physical book or module.

“Alam natin ang totoong kalagayan ng mga mag-aaral sa mga pampublikong paaralan na karaniwan ay mula sa mahihirap na pamilya. Umaasa lamang sila sa libreng libro o module na mula sa kanilang mga paaralan. Gayunpaman, hindi ito dapat maging dahilan para hindi sila magkaroon ng pagkakataon na magbasa at gumamit ng mga libro na makatutulong ng malaki sa kanilang pag-aaral. Kung wala pang sapat na budget ang ating gobyerno para sa pagbili ng maraming supply ng libro o magpa-print ng sapat na dami ng module, mas mainam na isalin na lang muna ito sa digital copy para hindi naman mahuhuli ang mga mag-aaral natin at magagamit nila ito gaano katagal at kadalas man nila gustuhin,’’ he explained. 

(We are aware of the real situation of the students in public schools who usually come from poor families. Nevertheless, this should not be a reason for them not to have the opportunity to read and use books that can help them in their studies. If the government has no sufficient budget for the purchase of the several supplies of books or for the printing of the modules, it is better now to convert these materials into digital copy so our learners can access them anytime they want.)

To protect the intellectual property rights of both the authors and publishers of the textbooks, the implementation of the scanning or conversion must comply with the provisions of Republic Act No. 8293 or the “Intellectual Property Code of the Philippines.” 

The e-books and digital format copies of the textbooks shall also be made available and accessible to all public school students, in a manner deemed appropriate and reasonable by the Department of Education (DepEd).