Srinagar: The implementation of common curriculum in government and private schools is likely to become a reality in schools as the Jammu and Kashmir Board of School Education (BOSE) has directed all the private schools to prescribe textbooks published by the Board, for classes 6th to 8th from the upcoming academic session.
The Board has warned the private schools of action if the directions will not be implemented on ground.
Already, all the JKBOSE affiliated schools prescribe JKBOSE published text books for students from class 9th to 10th.
"All the JKBOSE affiliated private schools across J&K UT are directed that only JBOSE textbooks published by JKBOSE are prescribed for classes 6th to 8th from the ensuing academic session, failing which necessary action as warranted under rules shall be initiated against the defaulters," reads a notification issued by joint Secretary Publication, JKBOSE.
The JK Board has also advised parents not to purchase books which are not published by JKBOSE.
"In case any school forces them (parents) to purchase books other than those published by JKBOSE they should immediately contact JKBOSE," the notification reads.
The JK Board notification comes months after the J&K government implemented National Education Policy (NEP)-2020 and shifted the session to March in sync with the national academic calendar.
"Secondary class students in JKBOSE affiliated private schools already prescribe textbooks published by JKBOSE. Now, the class 6th to 8th students will also read JKBOSE published books which will ensure a common curriculum in schools from 6th to 10th," a JKBOSE official said.
Notably, the debate over having a common curriculum in Government and Private schools has been going on for the last several years. However, the government is yet to succeed in having a common curriculum in both government and JKBOSE affiliated private schools.
The need to have a common curriculum is because the private schools are accused of fleecing parents by prescribing text books published by private publishers. These books are sold at exorbitant rates in which schools earn a good profit (commission) as well.
"We received complaints from scores of parents that private schools are fleecing them by prescribing books published by private publishers," a JKBOSE official said.
He said books are published on the basis of the guidelines mentioned in the National Curriculum Framework (NCF).
"NCERT and private publishers follow the same guidelines while publishing books. But the only difference is that private publishers sell it at exorbitant rates and text books Board are sold at comparatively cheaper rates," the official said.
He said the JK BOSE was responsible for developing textbooks as per the Board Act.
Meanwhile, Chairman Private Schools Association J&K (PSAJK) G N Var when contacted said that the JKBOSE does not provide textbooks on time and it cannot cater to the demands as well.
"Being law abiding citizens we have to follow the government order but we will raise our voice against such moves. The JKBOSE should first reveal the names of book writers," he said.
Var termed the move as a "hasty decision" and said it will not bear good fruits on ground. "We are at a transforming stage as the government has implemented NEP and also shifted the session to March. Government should not take any such hasty decisions," he said.
Over the years, the private schools have come under severe criticism for prescribing textbooks of private publishers to students which are sold at exorbitant rates.
Joint Secretary Publication JKBOSE Wahid Makhdoomi when contacted said they have decided to have a common curriculum in government and private schools from 6th to 10th .
"Any school which will not adhere to the government directions will face action," he said.
About the supply and demand, he said the textbooks are being published on the basis of UDISE data available with J&K Samagra Shiksha.
"We have a good stock available with us and in case need arises to publish more books we will meet the demand prior to commencement of session. We will not make students suffer," he said.
About the common curriculum in lower classes (primary section), he said the JKBOSE did not jump in one go to implement a common curriculum for all classes but will be done in a gradual manner.
"NEP curriculum is in the pipeline and we will ensure to have a common curriculum in primary classes of government and private schools as well," he said.
As already reported by this newspaper, text books of a few private publishers were banned for publishing blasphemous content in books last year. There were back to back three incidents wherein it was found that some private publishers had published blasphemous content in textbooks evoking massive criticism from stakeholders.