Textbooks developed out of the need to teach reading and writing to children who had learned to read and write the Latin alphabet, syllables, and even words, but who were not yet ready to read extended passages (Wakefield, 1998). For a book to satisfy its requirements as a textbook, Dey (2015) opined that it must useful for students and teachers, it should be handy, attractive, correctly and neatly printed, i.e. not causing any form of strain in the eyes of the student using it. Also, it must be accurately written to serve the purpose of the subject-matter it was written for. It should equally be free from prejudice, contain charts, maps, diagrams, especially in subjects that requires it for it to be properly taught. Overall, the book must continue to keep the interest of the student alive.
Curricula provide for the blueprint with which all educational books should be based upon. Preez (2009) defines curriculum as the developmental process of constructing knowledge and experience in such a way that it will increase the ability of the student to grow in spiritual and emotional maturity as well as in academic excellence. Its development must an orderly, logical, and be of a cohesive construction of knowledge and experience. The ultimate aim of curriculum developemt should be emotional and spiritual maturity of students and academic excellence
Since education for all was at first introduced in a few countries and then later recognised as a universal right, the generalised use of textbooks has become mandatory in ensuring the effectiveness of instruction and success at school. If needs for books have been satisfied in quite a large number of countries, notably the developed or industrialised ones, it is however not the case for many developing nations. The developing nations, including Nigeria have been plagued by underfunding, unsustainable educational programmes, ineffective policies and undue government interference. By this, this paper explores an overview on what is obtainable as regards textbook and curriculum development in China, Mexico, the Caribbean and Nigeria.
2.0 TEXTBOOK DEVELOPMENT AND PROVISION IN CHINA
China has the largest education system in the world. With almost 260 million students and over 15 million teachers in about 514 000 schools (National Bureau of Statistics of China, 2014), excluding graduate education institutions. China's education system is not only immense but diverse. Education is state-run, with little involvement of private providers in the school sector, and increasingly decentralised. County-level governments have primary responsibility of the governing and delivery of school education. For the most part, provincial authorities administer higher education institutions.
In recent years, the Ministry of Education has shifted from direct control to macro-level monitoring of the education system. It steers education reform via laws, plans, budget allocation, information services, policy guidance and administrative means (National Centre for Education Development Research, 2008). The Law on Compulsory Education enacted, in 1986, was a milestone for China. According to this law, all school-age children with Chinese nationality have the right to receive compulsory education; and parents are responsible for enrolling their children in school and making sure they finish nine years of compulsory schooling. This law established a comprehensive system, and described rules for schools, teachers, teaching and learning, as well as education financing and the legal responsibilities of social sectors. The law was revised in 2006, and it now stipulates that all students in compulsory education are exempted from tuition and miscellaneous fees. The 2015 version of the law stipulates that text books can be priced only at marginal profit. To ensure that compulsory education is available to all children, the government has exempted all rural students in western China from all school fees since 2006. The government has also made textbooks available to all rural students for free and funding for these exemptions comes from the national budget. Finally, overall free, compulsory education was attained nation-wide in 2010 (Wang, 2012).
2.1 CURRICULUM MANAGEMENT IN CHINA
China now utilises a three-level curriculum model consisting of curricula developed at the national level, regional level and school level. This model involves the central government, local authorities and schools in developing the most suitable curriculum for the local context. At the national level, the Ministry of Education produces the curriculum plan for elementary and secondary education, develops guidelines on curriculum management and determines the national level curriculum as well as lesson hours. In addition, the Ministry of Education is responsible for setting the national curriculum standards. It also conducts pilot studies based on the curriculum evaluation system. At the provincial level, relevant authorities develop an implementation plan for the national curriculum. In doing so, provincial authorities try to interpret the intentions and objectives of the national curriculum, and to translate them into a local curriculum that fits the local context. The plan is then sent to the Ministry of Education before implementation. At the school level, schools can organise their teachers to develop their own courses and carry out educational research according to the provincial plan. During curriculum implementation and course development, the local education bureau is expected to guide and supervise the schools' work. Schools then provide feedback about implementation.
2.3 TEXTBOOK COMPILATION IN CHINA
For many decades, Chinese education relied on a centralised curriculum that left little room for local variation and flexibility. In 1988, the government began to encourage diverse interpretations of the educational programme by producing different textbooks still based on the same curriculum. The government encourages and supports qualified institutions, groups and personnel to develop diverse and high-quality textbooks for primary and secondary education according to certain standards. The authors apply to the Ministry of Education for approval if they want to develop a new textbook. The review process is conducted before the textbook comes into use. If the textbooks are for national use, the review is conducted by the National Primary and Secondary School Textbook Review Commission. If it is only for local use, the textbook is reviewed by the provincial textbook review commission. Policies require that the reviewer be independent from the textbook publisher.
There is also the National Centre for School Curriculum and Textbook Development which is also directly affiliated with the Ministry of Education and focuses on research but, more on curriculum and textbooks. In the new curriculum reform, the government has mandated the development of new textbooks that address issues relevant to contemporary life, society and the environment. Problem solving and the application of knowledge to real-world situations are encouraged in new textbooks, which also emphasise the importance of creativity and practical ability (OECD, 2016). In fact, only recently were publishing houses in China given a mandate to further tap into the opportunities in electronic books and e-learning, so as to be abreast with educational technological advancements in the world, especially Europe, Britain and America.
3.0 TEXTBOOK DEVELOPMENT AND PROVISION IN MEXICO
The Mexican book/educational industry is one that has been bastardised with a curriculum that is focused on repetition and memorization rather than active learning, in addition to a lack of state funds for maintenance. Only recently was the country accused with the printing of textbooks that was rife with avoidable errors. Mexico, while it boasts of spending a larger part of its budget on education than any other member of the 34-nation Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, scores the lowest on standardized tests (Aljazeera and The Associated Press, 2013). However, comments in some quarters, especially Mexican-Americans, who have passed through the system, are of the opinion that despite the challenges in the Mexican system, the country can rival the United States of America conveniently in terms of education.
It is worthy of note that, over seventy years ago, through Mexico's National Commission of Free Textbooks, the government decided to supply free textbooks to all its children in the six grades--generally known in Nigeria as Basic 1 to 6, of public and private schools. According to a figure...