The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) has warned its affiliated schools across the country to stop forcing students to buy expensive textbooks published by private publishers in place of those published by the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) and the CBSE which come at much more nominal rates.
To make up for the shortage, the CBSE had asked schools to raise online indent for NCERT textbooks. More than 2,000 schools had participated in that and according to HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar, NCERT textbooks have been supplied to 2,000 private schools.
While all CBSE-affiliated schools were required to follow the directions provided in a circular issued on 12 April 2016 regarding the use of NCERT /CBSE textbooks, complaints have been regularly coming in regarding the pressure exercised by schools on children to buy textbooks by private publishers.
Apart from being expensive, some textbooks by private publishers also have content which misrepresents the syllabus prescribed by the CBSE. Recently, an FIR was registered with the Delhi Police against a private publisher for indecently depicting women in a Class 12 physical education textbook. The book portrayed a 36-24-36 figure as the ideal body shape for women, and received a lot of criticism in the academic world and the social media.
The Board has also cited rule 19.1 (ii) of the CBSE Affiliation By-Laws, institutions such as societies, trusts and companies registered under Section 25 of the Companies Act-1956, wherein it is clearly stated that schools are run as a community service, and not as a business venture and thus no commercial activities should be conducted within the premises of the school. In an advisory, CBSE has warned all the schools affiliated to it that strict action will be taken against any school indulging in commercial activities such as selling books, uniforms, shoes and stationery items to students.
The advisory against commercial establishments in schools has been issued following complaints from parents and stakeholders. The Board in a communication sent to schools stated, “The board has taken a serious view of the complaints and the schools are directed to desist from the unhealthy practice of coercing parents to buy text books, note books, stationary, uniforms, shoes, school bags etc from within the premise or from selected vendors only.” The communication further added that schools were meant only for providing quality education.
The Board is very serious about following the rules of only NCERT books and no commercial activities within the school premises. It has started issuing show-cause notices to institutions violating these rules. The board provides affiliation to over 18,000 schools across the country and perforce removed its affiliation from a few schools in Uttar Pradesh due to discrepancies in their functioning.
This indeed comes as good news for parents and students alike. Apart from being nominal in charges, the NCERT books will be pan India, and it will be easier for children who have to take a transfer in mid-session. Also the prevention of commercial activities will mean that schools can no longer force children to buy things which are really not required at most times.