Millions of free textbooks were distributed among the pre-primary to secondary level students on the first day of the New Year. These books create boundless joy in the minds of the young learners.As an academic year comes closer to the end, children begin counting down the days and eagerly wait for the great event which has appropriately been named the Textbook Festival.
Free distribution of books substantially brings down education cost and thus serves as an encouragement to the students and their parents. This is one of the reasons why rate of enrolment at pre-primary and primary levels is rising fast.
But silly to serious mistakes in those books cast a gloomy shadow over the festivity and dampened the spirit and joyful mood of the children and have invited strong criticism for those who are at the helm of the country’s education. These books allegedly contain not only spelling and printing mistakes but also wrong sentence patterns and – what are even more worrisome – matters that go against our non-communal tradition and culture. This is seen by many as a compromise on the part of the authorities concerned with certain quarters.
Printing of such a large number of books with grave mistakes will remain a monument of sheer inefficiency and negligence of duties on the part of the education authorities. It is beyond our intellect as to how such a monstrous thing could happen at all. Is there no mechanism like panels of experts to finally check the contents of the books before sending them to the press? If not, we are constrained to conclude that such a thing of utmost importance like basic education is being handled in a playful and amateurish manner.
Authorities try to console us that errors in the books – ‘if found’ – would be corrected. But how? Printing the entire set of the books? In that case, will it not make the book festival a farce and lead to the loss of valuable time from the lives of the students? Or sending corrigendum sheets to the kids? Needless to say, such a measure will not serve the purpose of the kids who even have not learnt the alphabet.
It may a matter of real consolation for us if authorities concerned look at the matter seriously and take measures against repetition of similar mishaps.