Srinagar, Apr 7: In a move to promote transparency in the private education sector, the School Education Department (SED) has warned private educational institutions of strict action for forcing parents to purchase textbooks and uniforms from specific shops.
The move comes after numerous complaints were received from parents that they were being forced by schools to buy school textbooks and uniforms from selected vendors, often at inflated prices.
In wake of this, the Director of School Education Kashmir (DSEK) has come up with strict instructions for the private schools to notify the list of subjects and the books prescribed by the Board to which they are affiliated, through their websites while no other subject or book shall be made mandatory.
“Under no circumstances, any school shall ask parents to buy books from a particular bookshop. As such, it is once again enjoined upon all the privately recognised schools to desist from compelling the parents to purchase books /uniforms from any particular shops and change of books thereof,” the DSEK circular reads.
The DSEK has stated that parents should be given wider choice to purchase books and uniforms from the open market.
“Any deviation from these instructions, if noticed shall be viewed seriously and action will be taken as per the provisions of law which inter-alia includes de-recognition of schools besides withdrawal of the Managing Body as well,” the circular reads.
The DSEK has directed all the Chief Education Officers (CEOs) to constitute special monitoring teams involving cluster heads, Zonal Education Officers (ZEOs) to verify the complaints received on account of the sale of books and uniforms by the private schools and prescribing additional books or pressing parents for purchase from any particular shop.
“Action taken in this regard shall be submitted to this Directorate on a monthly basis,” the circular reads.
The DSEK has stated the directorate and its subordinate offices were receiving a number of complaints against the private schools regarding the purchase of textbooks, stationery items, and school uniforms from a particular shop which was a cause of concern among the parents and the society as general has raised eyebrows against this practice.
“On the contrary, the books prescribed by these schools should have been available in the open market. There are some more complaints from parents wherein it is said that a large number of books are being prescribed by the private school authorities for primary classes, which unnecessarily burdens the tender minds and mars the creativity and other 21st century skills among students as envisaged in NEP-2020,” the circular reads.
The DSEK further said that some private schools were forcing parents to purchase extra books for classes 6th, 7th, and 8th in addition to the books prescribed by JKBOSE “which amounts to extra burden on the learning of students and goes against the recommendations of National Education Policy 2020 which advocates age-appropriate burden free learning of students.”
The DSEK in its circular said that subjects like Computer Studies, Moral Education, and General Knowledge need to be infused across subject areas and other activities in the school without additional textbooks (School Bag Policy,2020).
“The schools that prescribe additional books which are not prescribed by the Board to which the schools affiliated not only flout the recommendations envisaged in Rule 8A of J&K School Education Rules, 2010 & revised guidelines of School Bag Policy, 2020 released by Department of School Education and Literacy Ministry of Education, Government of India but also poses an extra financial burden on parents,” it reads.
The DSEK said that resorting to such illegal practices by a few private schools was against the ethics and norms issued by the Government from time to time.
The DSEK has instructed all the CEOs, ZEOs, and Cluster heads to enforce the guidelines while the heads of the private schools have been directed to strictly adhere to the instructions.