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Students still waiting for textbooks

KARACHI, Aug 30: Hundreds of thousands of class I and class VI students across the province have not yet started their academic sessions due to the non-availability of textbooks. It is expected that the books would not be available before the middle of next month, officials in the provincial education department said.

Sources blamed the tussle between Chief Minister Dr Arbab Ghulam Rahim and Education Minister Dr Hamida Khuhro as the main reason behind the delay, besides the long and cumbersome procedures of the Curriculum Wing, Islamabad, which impeded the introduction of new curricula and delayed the printing of books on time.

Sources said the Sindh Textbook Board (STB) had submitted the summary for the allocation of the books to the education department in January this year. But it took almost five months for the authorities to approve the summary, giving the publishers just over a couple of months to accomplish the task. The delay was due to a tiff within the provincial cabinet which culminated in the curtailing of powers of the education minister.

Besides, the sources said, the provincial authorities had sent the new curricula, devised by around a dozen publishers, to the Curriculum Wing for approval. However, the latter cited a long procedural exercise for review of the new curricula and did not select and approve them.

The sources said that after waiting for so long, the STB authorities decided to do away with the new curricula and stick to the old syllabus for class I and VI at least for a year.

The STB also devised the same policy for class IX and XI and approved the continuation of the old curricula for these classes.

"The new curricula for classes I, VI, IX and XI could be implemented from the next academic session," said a source in the education department.

The sources said the STB approved the allocation for the old curricula books on July 1, which was a nightmare for the publishers given the fact that it was too gigantic a task to accomplish in just a month.

The fact was that the city witnessed record prolonged power failures this summer, which was an extension of miseries for the publishers as their work was already affected a great deal in the wake of widespread rains.

The STB gets published millions of textbooks for class I and around three-fourths of it are for class VI. Each of six books of class I Sindhi, English, Urdu and maths in three languages is required in at least a million copies, said a source, adding that for class VI publishers had to produce over a dozen textbooks in three languages.

The STB authorities, a few months ago, had claimed to be the 'leading' board in bringing out these newly developed textbooks this year in accordance with the new curricula and new educational policy.

A spokesman for the STB had said that despite the delay in allocation to the publishers, the management had made 'extraordinary' efforts and chalked out a schedule to work on a war-footing to bring out all the allocated textbooks according to schedule.

However, the events that followed proved that the STB could not take the lead over the rest of the textbook boards of the country. As a matter of fact, Sindh lags behind the rest of the country in distributing textbooks to class I students who have not yet begun their formal schooling. Dawn
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