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Overpricing of textbooks serious matter: Advisor Ganai

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Srinagar, Nov 07: Responding to the general public concern over the overpricing of textbooks, Advisor to the Governor, Khurshid Ahmed Ganai, has issued directions to the Directors of School Education, Kashmir/Jammu, to immediately examine the complaints about sale of textbooks at exorbitant prices by private schools in the state, an official spokesperson said Wednesday.

He said Ganai has asked them to recommend measures to regulate the rates.

Taking cognizance of the media reports, Ganai, who also holds the charge of Education department, said the government will issue guidelines to regulate prices of textbooks and uniforms of private schools in the state, on the analogy of regulation of fee structure of these schools.

The Advisor assured of strict action against those who resort to extortion and illegal profiteering by selling textbooks on highly exorbitant rates, leaving parents virtually at the mercy of the school managements, the spokesperson said.

Pertinently, while most of the private schools have already started new academic year and the majority students have already purchased new books and stationery items, the government has now woken up  to the issue of unscrupulous trade practices resorted to by the publishers and booksellers here in nexus with the private schools managements.

While officials claim that school text books worth over Rs 200 crore are sold every year in Kashmir, successive governments have thus far not bothered to look into or regulate this huge business, as a result of which publishers, booksellers and school managements are having a field day as there are no checks on their greedy and illegal practices.

It so happens that the publishers and booksellers pay hefty commissions or kickbacks to school managements who in turn force students to purchase books and even the stationery items from some select shops only. This is something that not only the parents but even the officials of the School Education department are aware of.

The nexus between the private publishers and owners of top private schools is deep-rooted as both make hay by selling textbooks in school campuses in gross violation of rules, an official said on condition of anonymity.

“The Education Act allows schools to impart education, but over the years they have resorted to illegal profiteering by selling textbooks from school premises on exorbitant rates,” a top official in education department said.

Greater Kashmir talked to some parents who stated that a set of text book for a 1st primary students of a primary school costs Rs 4000 or more.

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