Imperative role of private publishers in education
The importance of good quality textbooks in the formative years of a child cannot be ignored. Private publishers are putting their heart and soul into bringing the best textbooks, which are curated by the best of editors, digital content creators and developers. A recent news in media about making NCERT books mandatory for all classes in CBSE-affiliated schools, created quite an uproar. Here is more about the issue. A furore was created in the K-12 education publishing market after the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) issued its Circular No: Acad-07/2017 dated 14/02/2017 to make NCERT books available to affiliated schools of CBSE for the academic session 2017-18. The circular stated that the textbooks will be printed and supplied by NCERT for all classes and affiliated schools can make their requests online at their official website www.cbse.nic.in. The circular also stated that the link will be available for online indent till February 22, 2017.
The following day, few media companies carried articles which misinterpreted the circular and provided incorrect information about the usage of NCERT books in all CBSE schools. They said that CBSE has made it mandatory to use NCERT books for all classes. This created a lot of confusion amongst all stakeholders – publishers, teachers, students and their parents.
The CBSE offered schools with an option to buy NCERT books online keeping in pace with the Digital India initiative and this is no way says that the books are mandatory for all classes. Few prominent publishers met the honourable Union Minister of Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD), Government of India Prakash Javadekar, who assured that Ministry of HRD or CBSE has no intention to make NCERT books mandatory in CBSE schools. He also acknowledged the role of private publishers and assured that no such decision would be taken without public consensus.
Schools and teachers: best judges for content
Moreover, schools and teachers are well equipped to decide what is best suited for the overall holistic development of the students of their respective schools. In this competitive environment where students are under pressure to constantly improve their output, there is a need to provide students with the best quality content in their formative years so that they are able to cope with the pressures of college life and achieve their aims thereafter. Also, college cut-off marks are soaring every year making it imperative that students are well-equipped to score as well as compete with fellow students from other boards.
Private publishers: quality is prime
The role played by private publishers cannot be ignored or underestimated. In addition to providing high quality books, private publishers also support teachers by way of workshops/trainings/teacher resource material/lesson plans/digital content/web support/question papers/worksheets, etc. Besides this, the publishing industry employs the best of editors, digital content creators and developers as a part of their endeavour and commitment to create international quality books at the lowest possible price. Textbook prices in India are amongst the lowest in the world, even lower than some developing nations. The large number of students in India and the volumes enable private publishers to provide textbooks at fairly low prices.
Quality comes at a price…
Government textbooks are subsidised on tax payers money and hence they would always be priced lower than textbooks published by private publishers, as the publishing industry in India per se does not get any special incentive or subsidy from the government even though it is committed towards providing high quality textbooks and contributing to the education of the future citizens of India. Textbooks published by private publishers are made available on time as per the demands and requirements of schools, teachers and students across the country through its wide network of stockists, distributors and retailers besides their own stock points. The publishing industry employs millions of professionals, directly and indirectly, who are striving hard to create and offer high quality content for the betterment of students and the country at large.
Spending money on buying quality books is an investment not only for the better future of the students, their families but also for the country. It is time to seriously consider the implications of depriving students of good quality books, thereby preventing them from competing with the best in the world.