Chandigarh, April 2
As the new academic session is about to start, buying new books for their children is nothing short of an ordeal for parents in Chandigarh.
At 9pm, when the bustle usually sets in at the city’s markets, the Manchanda Bookstore in Sector 19 witnessed a huge rush of parents today. To manage the queue, stretching to the parking lot, the help of the police was taken.
“No complaints received from parents”
Ideally, schools should only prescribe NCERT books that are readily available in the market. So far, we have not received any formal complaints from parents about private schools prescribing extra books that are only available at one store or about book prices. We will study the question. Prabhjot Kaur, District Education Officer, UT
In the absence of an effective mechanism, private schools continue to prescribe expensive books from private publishers despite the cost-effective NCERT books available in the market.
Parents believe that private schools are establishing a collusive monopoly with booksellers and publishers. The UT Department of Education does not provide a list of textbooks prescribed to private schools. Therefore, these CBSE affiliated schools prescribe non-NCERT books. In public schools, only NCERT books are prescribed and used.
Deepak, a relative, said, “My son is studying in Class V and a set of books cost us Rs 5,000. The price could have been much lower if the school staff taught students NCERT books. Private schools prescribe books from private publishers which are only available from certain suppliers. Every year, private schools publish book lists for parents in which they do not write the names of the booksellers and claim that the books can be purchased on the open market. However, the parents say the books are only available at a few select stores.
Jai Prakash, another parent, who was standing in line, said, “I am visiting Manchanda Bookstore for the sixth time in a week. Every time I visit the store, some books are unavailable here due to out of stock. The book set is not available anywhere in Chandigarh except in this shop. That’s why there is a huge rush to this store.
Nitin Goyal, Chairman of the Parents Association of Chandigarh said, “In accordance with the orders of the Madras High Court and the MHRD, the Chandigarh administration has issued instructions to all private schools that they cannot prescribe only NCERT books. But private schools are completely ignoring these guidelines, and the toothless education department has been a silent spectator of this open-air spoils. Private schools say parents are free to buy textbooks from anywhere, but the books prescribed by each school are only available in certain stores, with which they have an unofficial and unholy connection. The connection between schools, publishers and officials is an open secret.
In 2018, UT’s education department ordered schools to prescribe only NCERT books for all subjects except language and math for grades I and II, and language, of EVS and mathematics for classes III to V. However, private schools continue to prescribe additional books.