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Session on, but NCERT yet to print many books

April 21, 2019 08:35 AM


Session on, but NCERT yet to print many books

New Delhi:

Slow printing and distribution of textbooks by National Council Of Educational Research And Training (NCERT) has not only given a blow to the Centre’s push to promote council books nationwide but has also hit studies of students, especially those who are in Std X and XII. The new academic session 2019-20 has entered the fourth week but crores of students are still waiting for textbooks.

NCERT is supposed to print around six crore textbooks for the new session. Though the complete print run should have been ready for distribution by March 15, the council has managed to receive only 25% of printed books in its warehouse.

What is alarming is that printing of 88% of Class X mathematics books was pending in the first week of this month. Similarly, not a single copy of Class XII accountancy II and III texbooks was printed. Likewise, NCERT received only 10% to 15% of Class XII physics I and II textbooks from the warehouse till the first week.

To tide over supply crunch, NCERT distributes old syllabi books

The new textbooks have undergone drastic changes this time. Due to rationalisation in syllabi, many chapters in the textbooks have been deleted and several changes made in chapters. For the first time, NCERT has introduced quick response (QR) codes in all its textbooks that will enable students to access related course material online. But due to slow printing, NCERT is now distributing old textbooks with old syllabi in the market to fill the gap, say sources. The distribution of old textbooks will compound the problem as students of the same class will study with different textbooks, resulting in confusion.

TOI has been trying to contact senior NCERT officials, including director Hrushikesh Senapaty, the council secretary and publication division head, since April 16, but no response came from any official till the time of filing this report. After visiting several book stores, including NCERT’s own sales counters in its headoffice, TOI had asked eight specific questions about printing and distribution to NCERT officials but no response came from them. While Class X and XII students bear the maximum brunt due to nonavailability of textbooks, the situation is equally grim in other senior classes.

Based on documents accessed by TOI, of the 238 titles, NCERT has failed to make available even a single copy of 103 textbooks across classes till the first week of this month. The situation is worse for Hindi and Urdu medium textbooks.

Arjun Dev, a historian, said he has been getting distress calls from acquaintances regarding nonavailability of textbooks. Dev said, “This is absurd. On one hand, the government is pushing for NCERT books, on the other, the council has not made these books available to students. Schools should ask the CBSE to ensure distribution of NCERT textbooks without any further delay.”

Amid the textbook crisis, it is learnt that most senior officials of NCERT, including the head of its publication division, who are engaged in the distribution of textbooks, are going for a weeklong foreign trip to attend a book fair.

Sources in the HRD ministry said it has received a letter on the scarcity of textbooks. Citing from a letter written to the NCERT secretary, which also marked to the HRD ministry, an official said: “An NCERT official has written a week ago that about only one-fourth of the textbooks of the total six crores have been printed and the scarcity is severe in other parts of the country as the copies printed were made available only in Delhi-NCR.”

The letter, a copy of which is with TOI, also mentioned that old and outdated books are being supplied and the web portal on textbook distribution is not functioning properly. A former official of the publication division of the council, on condition of anonymity, said while “issues” with procurement of printing papers could be one of the reasons, “MHRD should set up an inquiry to find out if there are other malpractices.”

According to P Raja Kumar, former head of the publication division, NCERT, the delay could be due to paper procurement and revision of books. “Apart from delay in procurement of papers, I have read that books are being revised, which could also have delayed the printing. Earlier, we used to prioritise printing of textbooks for board exam students

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