Rayees Ahmad Kumar
The recent move of the Jammu and Kashmir Board of School Education to prescribe one type of textbooks for both private and public schools from classes 1st- 12th has received a mixed response from stakeholders and general public. Earlier private schools of the region would teach board prescribed textbooks from classes six onwards, but the fresh orders of the board makes it mandatory for both private and government schools to adopt board prescribed textbooks from classes 1-12 leaving no room for any kind of laxity or deviation from the strict orders.
For a long time, various sections of the society have been demanding same type of syllabus and textbooks for the students enrolled both in private as well as government schools. However this all of a sudden move though displeasing to a minor group, has been widely hailed by majority of the people and has succeeded in garnering widespread praise and admiration.
Board prescribed textbooks are not authored by a single author instead a team of academic experts after thorough deliberations for months together come up with their product. They not only keep in mind the academic needs of the child but keep into consideration the overall personality development of the child also.
Education is a fundamental right that empowers children and shapes their future. Governments bear the responsibility of providing accessible and inclusive education free from discrimination. Education equips children with the knowledge and skills needed to participate actively in society fostering a culture of learning and understanding. Thus it makes no sense that children of same region enrolled in two different kinds of schools are taught different set of textbooks. It develops inferiority complex among those learning in public schools besides failing to provide equal competitive opportunities to them.
Exhorting common syllabus and textbooks can develop a sense of uniformity among children of same region, equal opportunities for the upcoming competitive events and demand common methodologies to acquire the set academic goals. Strong foundations of an effective education system are laid at primary level, so both government agencies and other stakeholders must be focused on improving the academic standard of primary education.
Various NGO’s and parents associations have previously appealed to the people at helm about the burning issue of minimising the weight of school bags of little chaps who find it difficult to carry on their shoulders. Upto class 5th, only five textbooks including Kashmiri is taught in government run schools while their counterparts in private schools are forced to carry a heavy load of more than a dozen books which is obviously an injustice to them. Teaching computer, fat grammar books, General Knowledge etc to children at tender age is beyond every one’s understanding. It brings no good results instead dips our future progeny in a well of melancholy because a heavy load of textbooks and extended syllabi can only push them to mental trauma. Teaching computer books to students of primary standard can hardly yield any desired result as these are laden with bulk of information, tough concepts and terms alongside difficult wordings which they seldom comprehend. Instead of teaching computer books, it is far better to take them in computer labs so that they get acquainted about the computer hardware and basic parts. Likewise it is useless to teach general knowledge of higher standard to primary level children who hardly remember onerous and burdensome concepts.
If we are truly sincere to our upcoming generation, then instead of teaching a dozen of separate textbooks it is imperative to impart education through a minimum number of textbooks with the incorporation of contents from all the sections. It will unconsciously and playfully equip them with required informative content rather coercing them to learn the same through a dozen books. The sweet fruits of this board order can be reaped by taking into confidence the publishers and private school managements also who through unanimous deliberations and discussions can choose best and qualitative content material out of a big choice, which can satisfy both academic and developmental needs of a child.
Decades ago there were least number of private schools and students learned from the books which board had prescribed. Products of such institutions are presently holding highest ranks in every field of life, so we must have full faith in board prescription which from time to time takes stock of quality of the books as well as their necessary amendments in quality and contents.
Prescribing a common set of textbooks and syllabus would remove the tag of discrimination among children and those being educated in private schools would surely get them at reasonable rates who earlier would raise hue and cry over their exorbitant prices. After the declaration of NEET, JEE and other state and national level civil services results, candidates who top the results or qualify with flying colours attribute their successes to NCERT and other board textbooks. According to them, these books not only help them in full comprehension of the terms and concepts but also pave the way for their success in future.
Moreover our proud son of soil, Dr Shah Faisal who topped the prestigious Civil service exam in 2009, averred in an interview that any candidate aspiring to sit in the civil services exam must collect the board textbooks of all subjects from classes 6th- 12th, read them thoroughly and then stride ahead with new choice of books.
In order to overcome the social and academic disparities among our children, it is crucial to frame a common curriculum and prescribe same set of textbooks but every attempt must be made to update and review the quality and content material of the books. Academic experts and publishers of high repute must be consulted from time to time in giving the material a final shape. Moreover the availability of textbooks in required quantity must be ensured both in market and schools before the commencement of the academic session to ensure no academic loss.
(The author hails from Qazigund and can be reached at [email protected])