BENGALURU: Three months have passed since the 2019-20 academic year began, but several schools in the state are yet to receive textbooks even as mid-term examinations are around the corner. According to parents, it is due to a growing nexus among education department officials, textbook vendors and schools, who are eyeing to pocket fat profit margins.
Speaking to TNIE, a parent said, “Schools and government officials are part of the nexus and get a cut. High-end schools send their students to private vendors to procure books that are sold at thrice the price.” He added that the scarcity of textbooks had been artificially created and has persisted over several years
“These vendors are supplied books by government officials on a priority basis. As aided schools cannot financially afford to be part of the nexus, they are hit badly as their students are denied books despite several cries,” the parent said, adding that this is why NCERT books were never introduced because their easy availability means no cut for the vendors, schools or the officials.
Sources in the Karnataka Associated Management of Private Schools (KAMS) admitted the practice too. The KAMS also raised concerns about the manner in which textbooks are procured, at the textbook society meeting that was held recently. Even an app-based system that was introduced to bring transparency in the procurement of textbooks has failed. D Shashi Kumar, general secretary, KAMS, said, “Schools place orders based on previous year’s admissions. The app does not account for this surplus or deficit to even out by giving the excess books to those who need them.” However, Bella Shetty, DDPI, Textbook Society, denied complaints that textbooks have not reached schools.
As per procedure, schools, especially those from the state board, prescribe textbooks from Textbook Society of Karnataka, which is also a private entity but government-operated, said sources. While the book procurement was done manually until two years ago, the cumbersome process which took time to consolidate the indent to give for printing was replaced by the app-based system for procurement, after which the government prescribed the textbook price.
This time, there were several glitches. After all this, when the books arrived, they were dumped in a godown instead of being given to the schools directly. While the Textbook Society claimed that all books have been distributed by July, school administrators complained that they had to visit the godown several times because various titles were available at different times or pay bribes.
Now, the department is making an attempt to scratch the surface - it has issued notices to several schools questioning them about the ground reality about the textbook distribution of last year, said sources.