New academic year has started in Punjab, but the problems for parents, teachers and students are old — non-availability of books at book stalls.
From class I to IX and from Islamiat to Social Studies and Mathematics, the information with the book sellers, is that they have been told syllabus (contents) are being changed and new books will be available shortly.
A prominent book stallholder in Satellite Town showed a list to this correspondent, indicating that syllabus contents in as many as 34 books is being revised and these will be made available late. “We prepared this list after receiving the related information from the Punjab Text board (PTB),” he said.
It was found out that not only the government-owned PTB, but also certain leading private school syllabi publications have also now adopted this practice. Booksellers claimed that PTB used to print books on its and during that period, they hardly experienced delay in provision of books but now delays by the private contractors (publishers) was impeding the pace of academic activities.
During interviews, it was learnt that this unfortunate trend of so-called revision of syllabus started in recent years and mostly cover pages are replaced only with new images and drawings, whereas contents remain unchanged. Another book seller noted that not long ago, books read by elder brothers and sisters used to be relevant to their younger brothers and sisters. “I mean to say that it would take the authorities five to 10 years to change book contents and still the standard of education was good and now we have changes in books every year and these are needless,” he claimed.
He showed two PTB Islamiat books of Class VIII — one of the previous year and the new one printed this year — the only difference between the two was the image of a Mughal era building was showed more prominently in the new one while it was not properly focused in the old one.
A senior official at the Rawalpindi Directorate of Education, requesting anonymity, said that hefty amounts were going into the pockets of corrupt officials of the board by the yearly cosmetic changes in school books.
“Parents tend to visit us with complaints but we can’t do anything about this unfortunate malpractice. Healthy revision of subject contents is always welcome but this is not done only cosmetic changes are made that are totally unnecessary, having nothing to do with academic growth of students,” the official contended.
“To us, this is done only to award contract for publication to new people to bag commission and during this process, parents and students are inflicted with anxiety and the young souls are made to waste their precious time,” he contented.
In Rawalpindi and Islamabad, hundreds of schools have begun the new academic year and classes commenced from first week of this month but students attend classes with no or two three syllabus books.
Parents and students are seen returning disappointed from book shops. “We are told that books contents have been revised and new ones will be available within a week or two,” Imran Ahmad said when asked by this correspondent why he could not buy books for his two sons at primary level, who study in a private school.