The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Errors abound in geography textbooks
- Haste to print averted update

Nearly a lakh students in Calcutta, Salt Lake and Howrah and several lakhs more in the districts, who will study the Class V geography text in schools affiliated to the state primary board this year, will be given wrong information.

Reason: The government’s failure to recast the content of the textbooks, in keeping with the changes that have taken place in the recent times — like the bifurcation of some districts and formation of new states.

The geography text prescribed by the West Bengal Board of Primary Education for students of Class V contains a host of wrong information. For instance, the book says Midnapore is a single district and the largest district in the state.

Then, there is no mention about the formation of Uttaranchal and Jharkhand.

The books have already been distributed among students for the current academic session.

State school education minister Kanti Biswas admitted there were errors in the books. “The contents should have been revised to accommodate the recent changes and developments. Teachers will be asked to rectify the errors in class,” said Biswas.

He promised that the government will take all possible measures to revise the relevant portions when the next version of the book is published.

Teachers say the book in question is a publication of the West Bengal Board of Primary Education and distributed free among students. It is compulsory for nearly 20,000 schools affiliated to the board.

The teachers say they have to make do with the error-filled text as they are not permitted to prescribe an alternative.

“The bifurcation of Midnapore and formation of the new states took place more than a year ago. We are surprised that the government took no steps to change the content of the book,” lamented Ashok Kumar Maity, general secretary, West Bengal Headmasters’ Association.

Board president Jyotiprakash Ghosh, however, explained that it had not been possible to incorporate the updated information in the books this year because the manuscripts had been prepared much in advance — in August last year.

According to him, to incorporate any major change in texts exclusively published by the government, the board requires a formal approval and an order to the effect from the state school education department. The government order had not been ready in August when the manuscripts were sent to the press for printing, Ghosh pointed out.

The government distributes several crore free textbooks to children studying between Class I and Class V in the state-aided schools, and the books have to be distributed by the beginning of the academic session, in May. “We could not wait for the order to update the texts because it takes a long time to complete the process of publication,” added board president Ghosh.

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