CAIRO: The Egyptian Publishers Union (EPU) reached a resolution with the Ministry of Education regarding publishing supplementary textbooks, reducing fees for publishing licenses from LE 40 million to LE 3 million.
"EPU asked the ministry either to reduce the fees of publishing licenses required from each publishing house, or receive 2.5 percent of the annual total sales," EPU head Mohamed Rashad told Daily News Egypt.
Supplementary textbooks are neither sold nor distributed by the Ministry of Education, and were outlawed a few weeks ago by Minister of Education Ahmed Zaki Badr.
Rashad said he expects the resolution to end the crisis, since it is agreed upon by all parties.
"The real cause of the problem is the ministry’s agenda to get the highest financial gains possible," said Rashad, "But it was surprised to see the matter turn into an issue that concerns the community.”
Confrontations between Badr and EPU reached the Shoura Council whose education committee discussed the matter in a meeting last Monday.
After the meeting, the ministry agreed to give licenses to Nahdet Masr and Ghareeb for Publishing and Distribution publishing houses after agreeing to pay the fees assigned.
The two publishing houses were given a one-week period to print and distribute their books in the market.
Publishing houses had filed a lawsuit at the Administrative Court demanding the cancellation of the minister’s decision, but promised to drop the lawsuit if a compromise is reached with the ministry.
Despite the resolution, the matter is not yet resolved, leaving Egyptian families and bookshop owners to pay the price.
Ibrahim Said Gouda El-Sahar, owner of Maktabet Masr, one of Egypt’s prominent bookstores downtown, told Daily News Egypt, "Since the bookstore’s establishment in 1932, this [has been] the worst season, we had to [let go] of 75 percent of our employees."
"I do not know how the ministry takes its decisions. The minister asked for LE 40 million for a license, which was later reduced to LE 3 million," Moataz Raafat, a manager in Nahdet Masr publishing house, told Daily News Egypt.
"Every year we used to work on a 24/7 basis, but now we work for only eight hours per day after getting rid of 90 percent of our workforce."
Raafat also indicated that if the ministry is not committed to the resolution reached, publishing houses will go through with the lawsuits they filed.
"The crisis is still ongoing despite the resolution, and families are still searching for supplementary textbooks," said Former Deputy of Al-Tagammu Party and member of National Association of Change Aboul Ezz El-Hariry.
"The books that were seized from me by the police when I was arrested are yet to be returned, and we are staying in our libraries jobless."