In the new academic session, the Punjab government schools are struggling due to shortage in supply of books printed by the Punjab School Education Board (PSEB), due to delay in purchase of paper.
A centre of 12 schools in Bhadson block-2, has received books of only three subjects, of the 21 books prescribed from Class 1 to 5. Bhadson Block-1, having 126 schools, has received the books of only five subjects. The condition is equally bad for Classes 6 to 8, who have received books for only 15 out of 36 subjects. These books have reached in instalments, till April 3.
A letter from the special secretary of education department, to all the district education officers of the state, a copy of which is with HT, directs the officials to collect the books from the previous batch and manage with old books till the supply is regularised.
The letter states that owing to delay in the purchase of paper, there is a possibility of delay in completion of publishing new books till June-July.
“Most of the books have already been supplied to the block-level departments; it is there responsibility there on,” said chairperson PSEB Balbir Singh Dhol.
The Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) and SC social welfare department, provide free books to all students of government schools till Class 8; there on, only the students of reserved categories are given this facility.
The PSEB holds the rights to publish Punjab schools’ education books. The department publishes around 12% of the books for private booksellers.
“Most of the students from the previous batches do not return all books. Many of the donated books are not in legible condition. We can’t compel students to return the books by any means,” said a government teacher, on condition of anonymity.
“The onus of increasing the enrolment and performance of students is on the shoulders of teachers. We go to people’s houses to bring their children school and decrease the drop-out rate. How do we fulfil our responsibility without the supply of books,” said another teacher.
In 2008, the contract of publishing books was revoked from the PSEB after flak against the poor quality and improper distribution of books; which came to light when the then DGSE Krishan Kumar and Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, authorities got the books published in better quality and at cheaper prices.
But the then chief minister Prakash Singh Badal excused the board and “gave it another chance with a strict warning”.
“The poor are being kept bereft of books, whereas complete books’ sets are available at shops and private schools. Negligence of the governments towards education sector has resulted in growing craze towards private schools, which are difficult to afford. Parents are protesting every year to control the expenditure in these schools,” said Jagjit Singh of Shiksha Vikas Manch.