The Ninth Ghana International Book Fair kick-started on Tuesday in Accra with a call on publishers, writers and stakeholders to join in the fight against “book piracy.”
Professor Kofi Awoonor, Chairman of the Council of State, explained that “book piracy” represented a situation where some perpetrators illegally, poorly and cheaply reproduced textbooks and other publications of writers and publishers.
He described the perpetrators as book criminals and added that their activities were potentially dangerous to both the publishing industry and to literacy.
“Book criminals are difficult to monitor and chase out of business,” he said adding that if publishers, writers and stakeholders became strong activists they would be able to clamp down on activities of the perpetrators.
Prof. Awoonor called for a colloquium of government officials, publishers and writers to promote child literacy.
He expressed worry that though a Book Development Council, a unit under the Ministry of Education, had been formed, the unit had not been given the needed support to operate.
He appealed to the Minister of Education, Mr Alex Tettey-Enyo, to give the Book Development Council the attention it deserved.
Mr Tettey-Enyo expressed concern about proliferation of unapproved and poorly printed books.
He said the Ministry in collaboration with the Ghana Education Service had established the Textbooks and Educational Equipment Committee and charged with the responsibility to assess and approve all supplementary readers and instructional materials for use in schools.
Mr Tettey-Enyo said under the Textbook Development and Distribution Policy programme, the Ministry of Education had set the target of attaining and sustaining a one-to-one pupil and book ratio.
“In addition, the Ministry of Education aims at developing school libraries for the improvement of reading, student research capacity and active student learning.”
Mr Asare Konadu Yamoah, President of the Ghana Book Publishers Association, underscored the importance of pre-school education stressing, “Child literacy is a non-negotiable investment.”
“We must as a country consider this area as of utmost importance and as a result, strategise and develop an appropriate programme for success.”
The weeklong fair is under the theme: “Child Literacy, the Foundation for Future Development.”