A few days ago, the Central Board for Secondary Education (CBSE) issued a warning to schools that they cannot insist that parents have to buy other textbooks besides the NCERT books prescribed by CBSE. It is said that this warning has been issued after complaints from many parents that schools were forcing them to buy expensive, non-NCERT text books.
My son is also in a CBSE school and therefore, I approached a few parents whose children study in a renowned CBSE school in Bangalore. Their children are in higher grades. They strongly supported the schools for prescribing ‘reference’ text books other than the prescribed NCERT textbooks because they felt the NCERT books were extremely basic. They said that just following the NCERT textbooks will make it very difficult for the children to face the Public exam. That is the reason schools are choosing to prescribe other textbooks which have better explanations and more practice problems. Of course, CBSE has now made it optional for students to take the Public exam in the 10th standard.
I also spoke to a teacher who teaches in a CBSE school and she also concurred that the NCERT textbooks were poorly written and were simply inadequate to handle the standards of the public exam and getting rid of all the prescribed reference textbooks will really be a bad move for the children.
Today, among the middle class parents, the concept of beginning ‘Coaching’ for Engineering exams starts as early as the 8th grade. Enrolling children in institutes like Byjus, Aakash, etc. is very common. The sheer number of coaching institutes that have sprung up in the last decade to cater to this need indicates the willingness of parents to sign up their children for these courses.
While CBSE does seem to have the noble intentions of ensuring that education is available to as many children as possible across economic strata and ensuring that ‘No child is left behind’, it seems to be an impracticable decree to insist that no school should prescribe extra textbooks given that a lot of parents and teachers concur that the NCERT textbooks are just not good enough.
I agree that education is the ticket to a better life for most of us. But with these new standards of exempting children from taking the 10th standard board exams, diluting the assessment methodologies and not giving enough flexibility on textbooks; are we really equipping our children to be the best they can be in the competitive scenario that they face today?