Classes for the XIth Standard are all set to begin on June 17. But students under the West Bengal Council of Higher Secondary Education (WBCHSE) had better get prepared to start attending their classes without their language textbooks — in English, Bengali and Sanskrit. This is because the council is yet to send eight textbooks — all language subjects — for printing.
Worse, this year, the students will not even be able to consult the old books, since the syllabuses have changed.“Students across all streams study English and Bengali. If they don’t have the books in hand, we really don’t know how we’ll proceed with the classes. This year, with the syllabus changes, it was even more important that students got their books in time,” a teacher of Ballygunge Government School said on condition of anonymity.
Achinta Pal, secretary of the WBCHSE, however, feels there is nothing much to worry about.“We couldn’t issue tenders for printing eight books because of some internal problems. But it’ll happen very soon. Although classes are scheduled to begin next week, in most schools, they won’t take off before August since admissions to Class XI are still on. We should be able to complete printing by then and the students will get their books in due course,” Pal said.
The real reason why the eight books could not be sent for printing, however, is a difference of opinion between the president of the WBCHSE, Muktinath Chattopadhyay, and Pal.The latter accused Chattopadhyay of wrongfully awarding tenders to a publisher, following which an inquiry committee was set up and the former offered to resign.
But the task of printing the eight books will not be easy at all. According to the council’s estimates, at least 70 lakh copies of the books need to be printed.
“The syllabuses may have changed, but fortunately, the teachers have been given copies of the books. What we plan to do is start teaching the topics that are common to both the old and new syllabuses,” Dipak Kar, president of the Government School Teachers’ Association, said.“In that case, the students will have to buy the old syllabus books and stay with them until the new ones arrive. But, at least, we’ll be able to conduct classes,” Kar added.