Meet dis­cusses kids’ book in­dus­try and pub­lisher’s role in en­hanc­ing ed­u­ca­tion

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SHARJAH: The sec­ond day of the eighth Sharjah In­ter­na­tional Book Fair (SIBF) Pub­lish­ers Con­fer­ence on Tues­day saw a gath­er­ing of pub­lish­ers and in­dus­try pro­fes­sion­als from the region and the world focus on the im­por­tance of es­tab­lish­ing a more com­pet­i­tive and au­ton­o­mous ed­u­ca­tion pub­lish­ing sec­tor, and high­lighted lat­est trends in the Arab and in­ter­na­tional chil­dren’ s and young Adult (YA) pub­lish­ing mar­ket.

The day’s pro­ceed­ings rolled out with key­notes and im­por­tant comments from government rep­re­sen­ta­tives, se­nior pub­lish­ing ofi ci al sand in­dus­try heavy weights, Hus­sain Ibrahim Al Ham­madi – Min­is­ter of Ed­u­ca­tion for the UAE; Hugo Set­zer, Vice Pres­i­dent of the In­ter­na­tional Pub­lish­ers As­so­ci­a­tion (IPA); and Dr Rashid Al Nuaimi, Ex­ec­u­tive Direc­tor for Me­dia Af­fairs at the Na­tional Me­dia Coun­cil (NMC).

Dur­ing his speech, Hus­sain Ibrahim Al Ham­madi said: “I would like to thank His High­ness Dr Sheikh Sul­tan Bin Mo­hammed Al Qasimi, Mem­ber of the Supreme Coun­cil and Ruler of Sharjah, for his un­wa­ver­ing sup­port to boost the sci­en­tiic and cul­tural move­ment in the UAE. The Pub­lish­ers Con­fer­ence is a unique plat­form that high­lights the grow­ing need to sup­port pub­lish­ing houses and build its ca­pac­i­ties.”

Hugo Set­zer, Vice Pres­i­dent of the In­ter­na­tional Pub­lish­ers As­so­ci­a­tion (IPA), em­pha­sised the im­por­tance of build­ing bridges and work­ing to­gether, say­ing, “Our in­dus­try is made of many parts, while not bro­ken, are dis­tinct and po­ten­tially there, with only a few com­pa­nies suc­ceed­ing in span­ning across mar­kets.”

He high­lighted that the UAE is the youngest mem­ber of the IPA, and said that their chal­lenge is to build th­ese bridges not only with pub­lish­ers, but also pol­icy-mak­ers, help­ing them be aware that pol­icy changes may af­fect pos­i­tively or neg­a­tively the in­dus­try in key pol­icy ob­jec­tives such as ed­u­ca­tional out­comes.

Dr Rashid Al Nuaimi noted: “This con­fer­ence fur­thers UAE’S achieve­ments in the cul­tural sec­tor, es­pe­cially in the book in­dus­try, and supports Arab pub­lish­ers in a big way to keep up with lat­est trends, net­work, and ex­pand glob­ally. Held in con­junc­tion with SIBF, the Pub­lish­ers Con­fer­ence is an es­sen­tial pil­lar of sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment and a key player in build­ing knowl­edge-based so­ci­ety and knowl­edge econ­omy, as well as nur­tur­ing re­search and stud­ies in all ields.”

The irst dis­cus­sion panel ti­tled ‘En­cour­age com­pe­ti­tion in ed­u­ca­tional pub­lish­ing’ was in­tro­duced by Jose Borgh­ino, Sec­re­tary Gen­eral of IPA, who opened the panel by high­light­ing the fact that ed­u­ca­tion is a strate­gic re­source and said, “When you are build­ing an ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem, you are build­ing the fu­ture.”

He high­lighted the need for bet­ter col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween govern­ments and ed­u­ca­tion pub­lish­ers in all coun­tries, strip­ping away from the idea that ed­u­ca­tion pub­lish­ers are mere pro­duc­ers of com­modi­ties.

He also said that the IPA has ob­served that the best per­form­ing ed­u­ca­tion systems in the world have highly com­pet­i­tive and open mar­kets de­signed to pro­duce in­no­va­tive prod­ucts at­tuned to stu­dent needs.

w This is fur­thered by em­pow­er­ing teach­ers to choose the right learn­ing re­sources for their class­rooms.

He added: “Pub­lish­ers must work to­gether as cru­cial stake­hold­ers in the ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem, with government and with teach­ers to pro­duce the ul­ti­mate goal of a good ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem, and that’s a well-ed­u­cated ci­ti­zen. A healthy ed­u­ca­tion pub­lish­ing in­dus­try is a vi­tal as­set to any demo­cratic so­ci­ety and an es­sen­tial ele­ment of a com­pet­i­tive, knowl­edge-based econ­omy.”

The next panel ses­sion, ‘Spot­light on Arab and in­ter­na­tional chil­dren’s and YA pub­lish­ing’, was in­tro­duced by the ses­sion mod­er­a­tor, An­drew Sharp, group rights and dig­i­tal direc­tor at Ha­chette Chil­dren’s Books who has been in the chil­dren’s and YA pub­lish­ing in­dus­try for over 20 years.

Be­fore in­tro­duc­ing the pan­el­lists, Sharp shed light on the re­silience of the chil­dren’s book mar­ket, say­ing that in times of eco­nomic hard­ship glob­ally, sales in this cat­e­gory of books haven’t been im­pacted neg­a­tively as par­ents and teach­ers have con­tin­ued to buy read­ing ma­te­rial for their chil­dren even if they cur­tail per­sonal pur­chases.

“The suc­cess of the global pub­lish­ing in­dus­try does rely heav­ily on the suc­cess of the chil­dren’s pub­lish­ing in­dus­try pro­fes­sion­als,” he said.

All pan­el­lists agreed that chil­dren’s lit­er­a­ture is in a way lay­ing the foun­da­tions of the world’s fu­ture and in that sense is an as­pect of hu­man de­vel­op­ment that must be han­dled with ex­tra sen­si­tiv­ity and care.

Hus­sain Ibrahim Al Ham­madi

Dr Rashid Al Nuaimi

Hugo Set­zer

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