The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Lighter bag for school kids

New Delhi, Nov. 3: A publishing organisation has promised to lessen the burden of textbooks on primary schoolchildren.

Orient Longman today brought out a set of 15 textbooks ' three each for Classes I to V. One book will contain several subjects. For instance, core subjects like English, Social Studies, Mathematics and Science are included in a single book.

The textbooks, which will follow the CBSE and ICSE syllabus, will be first put to use in Calcutta, Mumbai and Delhi.

'The Yashpal committee report advocating lessening of textbook burden triggered a thought process on how to achieve this,' said Raj Mani, the vice-president (schools) of Orient Longman. 'We held extensive discussions and then worked out a formula.'

The publishing house has tested the books in 600 schools across Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Pondicherry. 'We were informed today of the decision of the Tamil Nadu matriculation board to use these books in their schools,' said Mani.

The Yashpal committee report, prepared more than a decade ago, had strongly argued in favour of bringing down the number of textbooks so that children do not have to carry heavy schoolbags.

The committee had also advocated a system of keeping books in schools.

The recommendations, however, were gathering dust despite endorsement from the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT).

According to Mani, the books teach students to think on their own. 'Our aim is to stimulate the thinking process of the child to increase his or her involvement and participation in the learning process,' he said.

The textbooks' authors include A.. Khanna, a reader in Delhi's Rajdhani College, Anju Sahgal Gupta, a reader in the Indira Gandhi National Open University, Sumitra Siromani, who teaches in Guwahati's Delhi Public School, NCERT consultant Sushmita Malik and Abha Sahgal, a former principal of Delhi Public School in the capital.

'The authors and subject consultants have been drawn from across India and specialists and advisers to NCERT are a part of the editorial team,' said Mani.

He added that his firm's efforts to lighten the textbook burden have drawn appreciation from all quarters, including parents, teachers and students.

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