‘Review extra reading books for schools before rejection’

Mansi Saraf-Joshi
Friday, 16 February 2018

Edu experts upset over removal of controversial books without scrutiny by committee

Pune: After Opposition leader Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil accused the State government of removing books with objectionable content meant for supplementary reading for primary school students of Std I to V, education experts said the move was upsetting.

“The State government has been providing books to schools for supplementary reading for decades. The State forms a committee of experts and the chairmans/directors of Education (primary and secondary), Bal Bharti, State Board, State Council for Education, Research and Training (SCERT),” said former education director and board chairman Vasant Kalpande.

He said, “This committee would scrutinise hundreds of books. The books would be removed if they have bad language, wrong grammar, wrong sentence formation, wrong information and such parameters. However, the set did have storybooks from mythology. There would be books from Greek mythology, stories of the constellation of seven stars (Saptrishi), Mahabharata, Ramayana tales and there was nothing wrong to have such books.” 

“But in this case, no one has seen the books that have objectionable content. The books have not been circulated, so it is difficult to comment on them. Experts can have difference of opinion on which books should be there,” Kalpande said. 
Former deputy director and former divisional board chairman Basanti Roy said, “A list of books is made which is scrutinised by the expert committee. These books would be recommended by the publishers and the committee would shortlist the books for nearly one lakh primary and 20,000 secondary schools.”

Roy said, “The books would be listed according to age group of the children and these books would have stories of freedom struggle, the sacrifice by the freedom fighters and others.”

Kalpande said, “The State allocates budget for school education and then a sum would be spent on buying the books, sometimes for stationery or for developmental work.” 

A teacher from Chalisgaon, who did not want to be named, said, “I have been a primary teacher for nearly two decades. No books per se are provided by the government, but the schools would advise to buy books from National Book Trust or from the list of publishers given by the government or a van would come to the school and the school would select books for their libraries from it. The schools had to decide which books should be bought.”

Software engineer Suchikant Vanarse, who works for conservation of Marathi schools, said, “There is an urgent need of having sex education for primary students too. We need counsellors who scientifically explain various concepts and this education should be contemporary and not based on traditions or beliefs.”

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