All in the head
Sir — We’ve been asked, “Don’t lose head on lice”, (June 6). But physicians, insect researchers and editors won’t tell us why they are losing theirs over the parasite which is one of the commonest to feed on human blood. The advice they come up with is also the commonest wisdom. Even schoolchildren who go mad scratching their heads know that lice are “essentially harmless”. A head full of lice is as much a bother as common cold, and as much difficult to avoid. Unclean heads are a part of growing up, and the less expert advice we have on it the better.
D. Sarkar, Calcutta
Sir — The secretary and chief executive of the Council for the Indian School of Certificate Examinations, Francis Fanthome, was recently in Calcutta to meet principals and teachers of schools affiliated to the council. Had he the time and inclination, he would have heard startling stories about forcible tuitions in many schools, rank profiteering, and poor infrastructure that ranges from bad furniture to lack of drinking water. For example, at a reputed English medium school in Kalyani, one of the many branches in and around Calcutta, teenage girls have to sit on benches hardly six inches from the floor. With boys in their class, the girls feel very embarrassed.
There are several ICSE schools which have been given recognition by the board and claim English to be their medium of instruction. Yet most of the teachers employed by the school cannot speak proper English. Is it not the duty of the council to see that a minimum standard of education is maintained by schools affiliated to it'
There is much that is wrong with ICSE council recognized schools. Perhaps a public interest litigation should be filed against it for giving affiliation to schools when it has no means or competence to supervise conditions in them.
Max Galstaun, Kalyani
Sir — I have taught in Calcutta’s leading schools for two decades, but nothing can compare with my experience in one of the ICSE schools I taught in recently. The school seems to be minting money by providing admissions to and promoting students who are the worst of the lot and whose parents are rich enough to pay for them to be passed. Often children who have failed in other schools are admitted to this school after paying a hefty donation. The corruption does not end there. The school is forcing parents to buy expensive winterware and overpriced uniforms from the school. Although parents feel the pinch, they are unlikely to complain since they know this could be the last school to admit their wards. Without political backing, the school authorities could not have persisted with this operation. The ICSE council should realize that schools like this should not be allowed to remain affiliated to it.
T.K. Sinha, Calcutta
Sir — Getting text books under the new Central Board of Secondary Education syllabus is a nightmarish experience nowadays. It is a known fact that the books, though officially not available, are sold discreetly in the black market at exorbitant prices. Some of the well-established book sellers are worse than hawkers in taking advantage of the situation.
Late last month, I approached a famous book seller on College Street for some text books for my daughter studying in class X. The shop was crowded. Somehow I made my way to the counter and gave the list of books to one of the sales personnel. Initially, he said that the books were not available. Then I found a person standing next to me purchasing the same books through another salesman of the shop. On inquiry, I was told that the books are available only if one purchased a guide along with each book.
Since I work in a bank and hardly get time to hunt for books, I agreed to buy the guides although I did not want them. I was stunned to see the bill that came soon after. For a text book priced at Rs 80, the cost of a guide forced on me was Rs 200. For another text book priced at Rs 30, the price I paid for the guide was Rs 120. Why should established booksellers engage in such unfair trade practices'
K.S.S. Kumar, Calcutta