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New academic session on but no textbooks in Punjab govt schools

WHY THE DELAY? A month into new academic session, government school students in Punjab and Haryana are without books. They have wasted most of their time playing games in classrooms or are being asked to study from second-hand books. While officials of education departments of the two states have ready excuses to cover their sloppiness, Himachal Pradesh has set an example by providing books to all the students in its schools even before the session began. HT looks at what is holding them back.

punjab Updated: May 13, 2017 17:00 IST
Ravinder Vasudeva
Ravinder Vasudeva
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Education,textbooks,Punjab
A notice informing about non-availability of Punjab school textbooks at a shop in Patiala.(Bharat Bhushan/HT Photo)

Call it irony or anything else. When the students of private schools are fast covering their syllabus, government school students, who mostly belong to poor families, of Classes 1 to 8 have no books to study from.

They are unlikely to get their complete set of textbooks before July. The Punjab School Education Board (PSEB) has already conveyed this to all government schools in writing. While the children are struggling in the absence of books or are being told by teachers to get printouts of books made available online, officials cite “nationwide crisis” in availability of paper to cover up their failure to ensure supply books on time.

However, sources blame the lethargic attitude of officials of the education department for the delay. “Ideally, they should make preparation for printing of books one year in advance, but the board starts the process in January or March,” said a senior official. The department has to provide 2.20 crore books to the students studying in Classes 1 to 5 free of cost for which 9,000 metric tonnes of paper is required.

Last week, the Punjab State Scheduled Castes Commission took suo motu action on the issue, summoning officials of the education department. “When the matter reached me last week, I immediately rang up a few officials. They told me that students can access the books online. The reply was shocking, as rural and poor students hardly have any access to internet,” said commission chairman Rajesh Bagha.

The department has sent old books to some schools in different districts, but they are not enough. In Jalandhar district, against a requirement of 7,95,272 books for Classes 1 to 8, only 2,06,490 books have been made available so far. The requirement for Classes 6 to 8 for computer science subject is 52,727 whereas the district schools have received 7,193 books.

When contacted, PSBSE chairman Balbir Singh Dhol denied any shortage of books in schools. “There are a few titles which have to be provided by the NCERT and have been delayed. Otherwise, all books have been sent. There may have been some procedural delay,” he claimed.

First Published: May 03, 2017 08:53 IST