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Textbook scarcity stings students

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By OUR BUREAU
  • Published 29.04.07
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April 29: Sivya Jha, who studied till recently in Kerala Public School at Sakchi (Jamshedpur) would not have failed in her annual examination in Class IX, insists her mother, if only she had access to textbooks.

Saira Parveen decided to switch from an Urdu-medium school to a Hindi-medium school because textbooks in Urdu disappeared from the market and were not available.

Suraj Prasad claims to have been running from pillar to post for the past 45 days to get physics, chemistry and biology textbooks for his daughter. But he has not been successful yet. Sanjay Sinha, a banker, claims to have offered to pay extra to the bookstores for the textbooks a month ago. But he still has not got the books.

As parents and guardians once again run from one shop to another, the shortage of textbooks appears to be getting worse.

Officials of the Jharkhand Education Project (JEP), which now has the copyright to print NCERT textbooks, admit that the state government used up the better part of one year to obtain the copyright and another year was spent in floating and finalising tenders.

Now that Saraswati Press at Calcutta, National Printers at Ranchi and Pitambara Books of Jhansi have been asked to print the books, they hope, the situation will start improving. But there is a fresh “mess”, says primary education director S.K. Sharma.

Syllabi for Classes I, III and VI have changed nationally during the 2007-08 session. But since JEP failed to secure the copyright for the changed syllabi, these classes in Jharkhand will continue to follow the older syllabi for another year, says Sharma. Syllabi for other classes are also being revised and by 2009, the school curriculum all over the country is likely to change from Classes I to XII.

JEP provides funds for free distribution of books to all girl candidates and students belonging to Scheduled Tribes and Scheduled Castes. HRD department does likewise for students in the general category and other backward class students studying in 38,000 government primary and middle schools.

The scarcity of textbooks has forced some students and schools to fall back on photocopies. Others are forced to beg, borrow and steal. But there is no explanation why books cannot be supplied if there is a demand for it.

While some people blame the state government’s decision to get the books printed on its own for the mess, others blame the allegedly low commission on NCERT books. Some dealers like Birendra Aurora of Pustak Mandir, Ranchi, alleges that the state is flooded with pirated version of books from one Anand Publisher of Delhi.

“The situation will take one or two more sessions to stabilise,” adds Aurora.