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The Textbook Review Mechanism

      At present, the Education Bureau (EDB) does not compile or publish textbooks. Instead, a textbook review mechanism is put in place to ensure that textbooks included on the Recommended Textbook List (RTL) are in line with the curriculum, of good quality and suitable for student learning. The EDB today (June 6) uploaded the RTL of Citizenship and Social Development (CS). In view of the fact that there are at times misunderstandings among the public about the work of the textbook review panels (review panels), the EDB would like to take this opportunity to explain the textbook review mechanism and the role of textbooks in learning and teaching resources to allow the public to have an accurate and comprehensive understanding.

 

Review panel members’ identity and procedures kept confidential for prevention of corruption and interference


      Textbook review is undertaken by the review panels set up by the EDB comprising both internal and external reviewers. Internal reviewers are members of relevant subject sections, while external reviewers include serving principals, teachers, academics, and other professionals familiar with the subjects invited by the EDB and they serve on a voluntary basis. The textbook review procedures and its content must be kept confidential. Publishers (including authors), reviewers and the EDB are required to abide by the principle of confidentiality. As the content of review is for publishers’ internal reference only, it should not be disclosed to the public. This is to prevent such information from being used for publicity purpose or tarnishing the reputation of the publishers/individuals concerned. The identity of the reviewers should also be kept confidential to ensure that they can conduct textbook review fairly, objectively and professionally, free from interference, pressure and bias. It is indeed an important measure against corruption.

 

Review panels provide overall professional advice, but do not conduct work of proofreading or ghostwriting


      Review panels will assess the textbooks in accordance with the curriculum guides and the textbook writing guidelines, and incorporate the major views of all reviewers for the reference of publishers. Textbooks that have been approved in the review will be listed on the RTL for schools’ reference. The RTL also includes the overall comments, such as “meeting the aims and objectives of the curriculum guide”, “concepts generally clear”, “generally relevant and accurate use of information and data” and “accurate use of language”. These are the general comments on the whole set of textbooks (covering a Key Stage/three levels) and should not be misinterpreted as comments for each individual item in the corresponding textbooks. Furthermore, the review panels will never replace commercial publishers’ role in proofreading every single line and word, nor suggest any textual presentation for rewriting the textbooks.

 

Publishers should bear professional responsibility for duly following up on advice from review panels and ensuring quality of textbooks


      Textbook writing is a rigorous professional task. Publishers, in accordance with the EDB’s textbook writing guidelines, are responsible for proofreading all areas, including language, information, punctuation, illustration and page numbers, to ensure the accuracy before submitting the textbooks for review. Textbook Review Reports provide examples of suggested amendments, such as pinpointing the inaccuracy of a map, exaggerated or biased illustrations not related to the textbook content, inconsistency in provision of captions, and vagueness and inconsistency in terminology throughout the textbook. However, the Reports will not require publishers to develop textbook content in any specific ways. The EDB has repeatedly reiterated that Textbook Review Reports will not cover all the areas that publishers need to revise in full detail, and the suggestions given serve as examples only. Therefore, publishers are reminded to go over the textbooks submitted for review thoroughly after receiving the Textbook Review Reports, revise all relevant parts including but not confined to the examples of suggestions for improvement listed in the Reports, and further check and verify the accuracy of the textbook content. If publishers have any questions, they may contact the EDB for further explanation and clarification about the content and suggestions listed in the Textbook Review Reports.

 

Rigorous requirements for textbook quality as it would affect student learning


      Similar to the publishing of other books, newspapers and magazines, textbook publishing should undergo a process of repeated revisions and proofreading. Publishers should provide “updates” or “clarification” as soon as possible if they find any omissions or outdated information in their textbooks at any time. This is an essential process of continuous improvement. If omissions or outdated information is found before producing printed copies of textbooks, publishers are responsible for making timely revisions. They should also submit the printed copies of new or revised editions of textbooks to the EDB for checking before sale. If the printed copies have been issued, publishers can revise the textbook content in the form of “corrigenda” or “reprint with minor amendments” and submit relevant applications to the EDB.

 

EDB will follow up accordingly if violation of textbook review mechanism is found


      In order to allow sufficient time for schools to select suitable textbooks and compile textbook lists before the end of a school year, it is a common practice for publishers to issue samples of teacher’s books for schools’ reference in the form of “Uncorrected Proof Copy” based on the initial revisions made to the textbooks submitted for review in accordance with the suggestions listed in the Textbook Review Reports. This “Uncorrected Proof Copy” may not necessarily be the final version with all revisions completed for printing. Under special circumstances, the EDB will clearly indicate the special requirements in the letters for the relevant Textbook Review Reports. Take the subject CS as an example, the time for the review of textbooks for Themes 1 and 2 has been considerably compressed so that there will be textbooks available in the same year of the 2022/23 school year for Secondary 4 and 5 students. For the sake of fairness, the EDB stressed that before the completion of the checking procedures for the CS textbooks (Theme 1), publishers are forbidden to disclose any content of the textbooks and their accompanying learning resources or teaching materials in any form. In the case of violation, the EDB will consider follow-up actions, including the issuance of warning letters, postponement of uploading its textbook information to the EDB’s RTL webpage, or even temporary suspension of textbook submission for review from the publisher concerned, with reference to the gravity of the contravention and the publisher’s past records.

 

Learning and teaching resources are diversified and complementary to textbooks


      Textbooks are one kind of learning and teaching resources. The EDB has long been developing diversified and quality learning and teaching resources to support teachers’ teaching and cater for students’ learning needs. For instance, before the availability of the approved CS textbooks under the textbook review process, the EDB has provided presentation slides, examples of teaching reference, worksheets, online self-learning courses tailor-made for students, etc. for each theme of CS. They have been gradually uploaded to the “Citizenship and Social Development/Liberal Studies Web-based Resource Platform” (cs.edb.edcity.hk/en/index.php) for teachers’ reference for lesson preparation. The EDB has also been developing quality learning and teaching resources for the subject Chinese History over the years, such as the “General History of China” Multimedia Resource Kits, relevant learning and teaching resources for the history of the War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression, “Micro-history” learning and teaching resources pack, as well as Ancient Artifacts and New Histories: Resource Book for Chinese History Teachers. These resources support teachers’ teaching and enrich students’ learning experiences by means of multimedia, historical relics, as well as diversified topics about wars and stories in history. Publishers may refer to the above-mentioned learning and teaching resources when compiling textbooks and the accompanying learning materials in line with the curriculum. As professional educators, teachers will timely supplement and enrich the learning and teaching resources in accordance with the aims and objectives of the curriculum and the abilities and learning needs of students.

 

6 June 2022 (Monday)