IN A major move, the UT Administration has ordered that NCERT textbooks “alone” should be prescribed in all schools in compliance with two circulars from the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) in June and July. In a circular dated September 13, the District Education Officer (DEO) has ordered principals of all government, government-aided and private schools to comply with four orders, including the directions on the NCERT textbooks.
According to directions from the Madras High Court to the MHRD, schools can now “prescribe and use NCERT books alone as per CBSE circular dated August 9, 2017, and other orders”. Other orders include that students of Classes 1 and 2 could not be assigned any homework and CBSE guidelines on reducing the weight of bags should also be followed.
Besides, the High Court has also directed the MHRD to “not prescribe any other subjects except language and Mathematics for Classes 1 and 2 and language, environmental science and mathematics in Classes 3 and 4”. It has come as a great relief to parents who have been requesting the administration over the past two years to prescribe only NCERT books in all schools. They have complained that private schools wanted to prescribe their own set of books to create a monopoly. Often, even for students in junior classes, the subject load was too much to handle with schools teaching subjects such as science, social studies and computer science.
“Private schools have been deliberately prescribing exclusive books that are available at their tie-up shops only to earn fat commissions. Parents were constantly being looted. We have been struggling on this issue for over two years. This loot that has been going on for years has come to an end with this order,” said Nitin Goyal, president, Chandigarh Parents’ Association.
In April 2017, the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) issued circulars to private schools not to coerce parents into buying non-NCERT books. During admissions, parents complained, this practice also burnt a hole in their pockets. Schools, however, said NCERT books had several mistakes and despite writing to the CBSE, no action was taken in the matter.
The NCERT textbooks are also far cheaper than books by private publishers. For Classes 1 to 5, each NCERT book costs around Rs 30. However, the CBSE has challenged this order from the Madras HC. In its appeal, the CBSE stated that it was only against the directions to prescribe only NCERT books and not any other books published by private publishers. It has not challenged any of the remaining three orders.