National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT)
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Non-NCERT books in schools
Allows sale of non-NCERT books, uniform in CBSE schools: Delhi HC
February 27, 2018: The Times of India
The Delhi High Court quashed a CBSE circular and allowed the sale of non-NCERT books and uniforms at the tuck shops set up at affiliated schools across the country, holding that the sale of such items does not amount to "commercialisation" of education.
It said the availability of books, both NCERT and non-NCERT, stationery items and uniform in the school premises would only add to the convenience of the parents and the students.
A single judge bench of Justice Rekha Palli quashed a circular dated April 19, 2017 issued by Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) advising the schools not to indulge in any commercial activity by way of selling of books, stationery, uniforms and school bags within the premises and to adhere to the provisions of affiliation bye-laws of the Board.
The schools were also directed by the CBSE to desist from the unhealthy practice of coercing the parents to purchase books/uniform from shops within the school premises or from selected vendors only.
"The Writ Petition filed by the Petitioners (Association of School Vendors) is allowed and the circular dated April 19, 2017, issued by CBSE is quashed and set aside.
"It is further directed that the Petitioners shall not be prohibited from the selling of non-NCERT books and uniforms also in the tuck shops which have been allowed to be set up in the CBSE affiliated schools for selling NCERT books and stationery items vide circular dated August 24/25, 2017," the bench said.
The court also quashed the conditions in another circular dated December 18, 2017, prohibiting the sale of non-NCERT books in the school shops and directed the CBSE to "take regulatory steps to ensure that the students and parents are not coerced in any manner, to buy any items from these shops".
Dealing with the question of commercialisation of education, Justice Palli said: "the availability of books, both NCERT and non-NCERT, stationery items and uniform in the school premises would only add to the convenience of the parents and the students".
The court said the use of the school buildings for purposes of education, would put a corresponding duty on the school management to ensure that the students are provided with all necessary facilities to help them pursue education in the school.
"The admitted case of the parties is that the aforesaid items in the school shops would be available only to the students of the school and not to outsiders and, therefore, I see no element of commercialisation in the sale of these essential items in the school shops," the judge said.
The court said that if the sale of books and uniform in the school shops without any coercion on the students or parents to buy from these shops, is treated as "commercialisation", there is no reason why even the sale of food items in canteen would also not be treated as "commercialisation".
"The availability of uniform, non-NCERT reference books or even food items for sale only to the students of the school, in my opinion, does not fall in the category of and cannot at all be considered as 'commercialisation'," Justice Palli said.
The court said the decision of CBSE to prohibit the sale of items, needed by the students in the schools, merely on the premise that the availability of these items in the school shops for sale, could be misused as the students and parents could be forced to buy them only from the school shop, appears to be "wholly arbitrary" and "quite irrational".
It said that it may be more in the interest of students that the option to buy books, both NCERT and non-NCERT, stationery and uniform items from the school shops should be available to them. "I have no hesitation in coming to the conclusion that the prohibition imposed vide the impugned Circulars, does not satisfy the test of "reasonable restrictions" under Article 19(6) of the Constitution of India," Justice Palli said. The court said there was also no justification to place NCERT books and stationery items in the permissible category and placing the non-NCERT books and uniform in the non-permissible category. "There is no valid reason for this classification which is discriminatory on the face of it as it cannot be denied that all these items including uniform, are essential requirements of the students," the bench said.
2019/ NCERT unable to meet demand
Manash Pratim Gohain, April 21, 2019: The Times of India
Session on, but NCERT yet to print many books
NEW DELHI: Slow printing and distribution of textbooks by National Council Of Educational Research And Training (NCERT) has not only given a blow to the Centre’s push to promote council books nationwide but has also hit studies of students, especially those who are in Std X and XII. The new academic session 2019-20 has entered the fourth week but crores of students are still waiting for textbooks.
NCERT is supposed to print around six crore textbooks for the new session. Though the complete print run should have been ready for distribution by March 15, the council has managed to receive only 25% of printed books in its warehouse. What is alarming is that printing of 88% of Class X mathematics books was pending in the first week of this month. Similarly, not a single copy of Class XII accountancy II and III texbooks was printed. Likewise, NCERT received only 10% to 15% of Class XII physics I and II textbooks from the warehouse till the first week.
The new textbooks have undergone drastic changes this time. Due to rationalisation in syllabi, many chapters in the textbooks have been deleted and several changes made in chapters. For the first time, NCERT has introduced quick response (QR) codes in all its textbooks that will enable students to access related course material online. But due to slow printing, NCERT is now distributing old textbooks with old syllabi in the market to fill the gap, say sources. The distribution of old textbooks will compound the problem as students of the same class will study with different textbooks, resulting in confusion.
TOI has been trying to contact senior NCERT officials, including director Hrushikesh Senapaty, the council secretary and publication division head, since April 16, but no response came from any official till the time of filing this report. After visiting several book stores, including NCERT’s own sales counters in its headoffice, TOI had asked eight specific questions about printing and distribution to NCERT officials but no response came from them. While Class X and XII students bear the maximum brunt due to nonavailability of textbooks, the situation is equally grim in other senior classes.
Based on documents accessed by TOI, of the 238 titles, NCERT has failed to make available even a single copy of 103 textbooks across classes till the first week of this month. The situation is worse for Hindi and Urdu medium textbooks.
Arjun Dev, a historian, said he has been getting distress calls from acquaintances regarding non-availability of textbooks. Dev said, “This is absurd. On one hand, the government is pushing for NCERT books, on the other, the council has not made these books available to students. Schools should ask the CBSE to ensure distribution of NCERT textbooks without any further delay.”
Amid the textbook crisis, it is learnt that most senior officials of NCERT, including the head of its publication division, who are engaged in the distribution of textbooks, are going for a weeklong foreign trip to attend a book fair.
Sources in the HRD ministry said it has received a letter on the scarcity of textbooks. Citing from a letter written to the NCERT secretary, which also marked to the HRD ministry, an official said: “An NCERT official has written a week ago that about only one-fourth of the textbooks of the total six crores have been printed and the scarcity is severe in other parts of the country as the copies printed were made available only in Delhi-NCR.”
The letter, a copy of which is with TOI, also mentioned that old and outdated books are being supplied and the web portal on textbook distribution is not functioning properly. A former official of the publication division of the council, on condition of anonymity, said while “issues” with procurement of printing papers could be one of the reasons, “MHRD should set up an inquiry to find out if there are other malpractices.”
According to P Raja Kumar, former head of the publication division, NCERT, the delay could be due to paper procurement and revision of books. “Apart from delay in procurement of papers, I have read that books are being revised, which could also have delayed the printing. Earlier, we used to prioritise printing of textbooks for board exam students.”