The Association of School Books Publishers ( ASBP) has raised serious concerned over the government’s ‘order’ for ‘ only NCERT book regime’ and said that if the government indeed goes ahead to bar private publishers from CBSE schools, it will have a disastrous impact on the Indian publishing industry affecting the livelihood of lakhs of people.
Educational publishing accounts for over 70 percent of all books published in India. Schools across the country have been warned against forcing students to buy expensive textbooks produced by private publishers, rather than those belonging to the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) and the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE).
Talking to reporters in New Delhi, Dinesh Goyal, President ASBP said, “ The recent move by the CBSE to encourage the use of NCERT textbook in affiliated school has led to widespread confusion among schools, parents and publisher.”
“While the CBSE circular only suggests this options to schools, the public debate surrounding the matter has been fraught with misinterpretations and speculations. Some of the discussions seemed to portray private publishers of school books in negative light on the basis of such misconceptions,” he added.
Justifying the need to make available quality books to learners, Navin Joshi, Secretary, ASBP said, “ For decades learners and educators have benefitted tremendously from the books brought out by private publishers. Competition and the presence of thousands of publishers in books with highly refined and qualitative content and innovative pedagogic method. This meant wide choice in content for schools and books that suit various levels of learners.”
ASBP functionaries argued that the private publishers provide not just textbooks, but multimedia content and educational software, along with services like online support, teacher orientation programmes and workshops. Learning has become more engaging for learners, and teachers easier, through such combinations of products and services offered by private publishers, they added.
“Since the school book eco-system is based entirely on choice, there is no question of compulsion or forcing the products on anyone. Over the years, schools and parents have been choosing established textbooks by private publishers that have gained the status of classic by virtue of their sheer quality,” Goyal said.
ASBP claimed that considering the value of content, quality of paper, technological supplements and training services, school textbooks by private publishers are most reasonably priced. They are in fact the most affordable ones internationally.
According to ASBP, India’s diverse society that is layered at social, economic and cultural levels demands richness and diversity in educational material too. “Replacing this freedom of choice with a standardised prescription runs counter to our states national approach,” Joshi added.
The NCERT itself admits that its books are in need of review and revision as these have been in circulation in the current version since 2007. Private publishers, on the other hand, revise their books almost every year to make them competitive.
Goel further said, “ We have always played a supporting role along with the NCERT towards the cause of quality education and we would continue to do that. It is need of the hour to protect this industry and restore choice to schools, students and parents.”