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As the new academic session in Kashmir schools kick started, the valley witnessed much furor on the sky touching prices of the books recommended by the private schools and verily parents had to wed a lot of finance to meet the expenses- though committees were set into motion by the government which inspected the book stalls and even fined some of them. The prompt action carried by the govt. is worth some appreciation as those who flout the norms must be brought to the book. But at the very same time, one fails to understand as to how fining the booksellers and the schools brings respite to the parents as they had to pay what they were to pay otherwise as well.

Obviously, recommending the parents to buy books from a particular store is dictatorial in nature as it makes a parent helpless and is against the consumer and customer rights. Whereas some schools truly resort to loot when it comes to the selection of the books but at the very same time we must not have the same yardstick for every private school. This menace needs to be put to an end as the rising prices of the books meant for the toddlers and kids are unbearable for the parents.

But the question is how to streamline the things and the answer perhaps lies in the fact that Govt. needs to cater to the modern-day curricular needs of the students. I remember when I was in class 10th in 2004 our Urdu teacher told us that the book we were reading at that time was in vogue for eight long years then and today when we are about to step in 2019, ironically the book is still the same. Forget about the eight years for which it was in vogue at that time, fourteen years still have lapsed since 2004 and isn’t it injustice that the same book without any alterations and additions is still being taught in our schools- hasn’t the world changed even a bit since then?

Students irrespective of whether they come from the govt. schools or the private schools deserve same kind of education and any discrimination is injustice to them. There is an urgent need for the government to revamp the ongoing curriculum in our schools up to the class 7th as these classes form the very base of the students and foundations must be strong. Let it not remain confined to the govt. experts only. There are talented teachers in some private schools too. Let experience be replaced by the performance. Government must take suggestions from the talented teachers of our valley and frame a policy accordingly and the policy must be renewed after every five years. Why should there be a separate curriculum for the private schools till class 7th? It must be one and private schools must be made to comply with it.
But for doing the same some concrete steps need to be taken. In the first place it is very disheartening that Board of School Education never keeps the books available on time and private schools take advantage of this blessing of BOSE and go for the separate curriculum. If the case would have been that the books prescribed by the board are not catering to the needs of the students, then perhaps the private schools wouldn’t be comfortable for going ahead with curriculum prescribed by the BOSE for the classes 8th and beyond.

The very fact that they are content with it proves that the books prescribed by the board are of a good standard. But the problem that needs to be taken care of is the timely revision of the books. For instance, Chinar English meant for classes 11th and 12th was launched in the year 2005 & 2006 respectively replacing the Spectrum series and since then no revision has taken place. Also, in the year 2013, a single lesson from the English textbook of class 10th was changed. Earlier it was King Lear by Shakespeare and later Merchant of Venice by the same author and rest of the book is still the same.

There is a dire need to select books on the lines of the modern educational needs of the students starting from the class 1st and more than that books must be available in the market at least one month prior to October. When the curriculum would be on the lines of the modern educational needs coupled with the timely availability, there won’t be any reason for the private schools to divorce the Govt. set curriculum. This way the parents will heave a sigh of relief and it will boost the economy of Board too. Further it can pave way for the single examination calendar for all the schools.

(The author is a former teacher and presently works as a banking associate in J&K Bank & can be mailed at [email protected])

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