ALTHOUGH THE Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) has advised schools not to force parents to buy books and uniforms from commercial shops located inside the school premises, not much seems to have changed. A few private schools in Chandigarh on Saturday held a parent-teacher meeting before the commencement of the new academic session, wherein parents were given a hint by the school staff to buy books and uniforms from particular shops in the city.
Munish Sharda, a parent who came to buy books for his son at Manchanda bookstore, Sector 19, Chandigarh, said, “My son is in Class 6, studying in a private school in Chandigarh. Every year, we are guided by the school staff to buy books and uniform from a particular shop.”
“The set of books we purchase has just one or two NCERT books while the remaining books are of private publishers. The uniform too we buy from the shop prescribed the school. We have never tried buying books and uniforms from other shops,” added Sharda. Another parent, Raminder Singh, whose son is in Class 8 in a private school, said, “When the new session begins, there is a huge rush outside these bookshops and uniform shops. Maybe one shop has a tie-up with at least five-six schools.”
An owner of a private school says that schools get 15-20 per cent commission from the sale of one set of books and a pair of uniform. After a circular was issued to the schools not to sell books and uniforms from the institution itself, the school authorities have started exploring new ways to continue with the old practice. Now either a slip or card of the prescribed shop is fixed with the marksheet of students which is handed over to the parents, or there are some books sellers or uniform sellers deployed outside the schools, who approach parents as they come out of school.
Arvind Rana, president, Sarv Shiksha Abhiyan, Teachers Welfare Association, said, “As per the CBSE guidelines, schools can only open a tuckshop inside the school just to sell small stationery items which is sometimes immediately required by the students. But it has been found that the books are still being sold in sets from prescribed shops by the schools and there is hardly any NCERT book. Rather, the private publisher books are being sold to students which are way expensive than the NCERT books.”