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A textbook case of academic mess

JKBOSE should have set its own house in order rather than forcing private schools to adopt the JKBOSE textbooks without taking the stakeholders on board
12:00 AM Apr 22, 2024 IST | Syed Rizwan Geelani
a textbook case of academic mess

For the past few weeks, Kashmir's education sector has been plunged into a chaos of sorts due to a controversial government directive to adopt JK Board of School Education (BOSE) textbooks in all schools. This has severely affected the functioning of private schools, while raising more serious questions on the working of J&K Board of School Education (JKBOSE).


The order mandates that all private schools must adopt JKBOSE-prescribed textbooks to establish a common curriculum in all government and private schools across Kashmir.


However, the decision, which has been taken in haste and without taking the stakeholders on board, has sparked criticism, primarily in the wake of both non-availability and poor quality of the mandated textbooks.

One of the most pressing issues stemming from this directive is the severe lack of alignment between various educational entities. This lack of coordination has led to confusion and disruption within the education system, impacting students, parents and educators alike.


The parents, in particular, are deeply concerned as the government's promise of making the textbooks available in the market remains unfulfilled. Despite making tall claims of catering to both Government and private schools, the JKBOSE has miserably failed to cater to the demand which has left the students and teachers in limbo. The height of the irresponsible approach is such that while the new academic session has already started in Kashmir, the students in scores of private schools are without the BOSE-mandated textbooks.


Adding to the frustration is the poor quality of the textbooks in response to which the parents of the students enrolled in private schools have staged protests saying that the JKBOSE prescribed textbooks were not updated. The aggrieved parents described the JKBOSE textbooks as expired medicine and stated that these are "hazardous" for the future of the school children.


The parents, already anxious about their children's academic progression, now face the dilemma of whether to compromise on quality or wait indefinitely for better alternatives.
The timing of this directive has also exacerbated the situation. The annual exams for all the lower classes have already culminated and the academic session started two weeks ago. However the textbooks are nowhere available. Forget about private schools, the students in government schools are yet to receive a complete set of textbooks for all classes.


Over the years, the debate to have a common curriculum in schools was going on but from the current academic session, the JKBOSE issued strict orders for private schools to adopt the Board textbooks.

Going by the sequence of the events, the directive for the private schools to adopt JKBOSE textbooks was issued at a time when the JKBOSE withheld the registration of around 250 private schools and barred the students of these institutions from appearing in annual (2024) Board exams of class 10th to 12th, from their respective schools.

The students of these private schools were denied registration owing to several reasons including expired affiliation and delay in renewal of revenue papers by the schools established on the state land. The on-roll students of these schools were tagged with nearby government schools and were asked to appear in the annual exams as regular students from these schools.

The move created a pressure on the private schools and in the meantime JKBOSE issued the directive to adopt a common set of books in schools. The schools were also warned of de-recognition and cancellation of registration if these institutions failed to adopt the JKBOSE prescribed textbooks.

The BOSE issued several orders in this regard in which the initial mandate was limited to classes 9th and 10th, subsequent directives expanded the scope to include upper primary classes up to class 12th.
Ahead of the current academic session, the JKBOSE directed the private schools to adopt JKBOSE textbooks for all classes. This sudden and sweeping change disrupted not only private schools but also bookstores, which struggled to meet the unexpected demand for JKBOSE textbooks.

Critics argue that even if the concept of a common curriculum has merit, the execution has been deeply flawed. The inability of JKBOSE to ensure the timely availability and quality of textbooks has raised serious doubts about the feasibility and wisdom of this decision.
Parents fear that their children's education is being compromised, with long-term implications for their future academic pursuits.

Amidst this turmoil, the voices of parents and educators grow louder in their demand for accountability and a swift resolution to the textbook crisis.
The stakeholders argue that educational policies must prioritise the well-being and academic growth of students, rather than causing undue stress and disruption.

The current situation has exposed the JKBOSE over its ill preparation which is evident from the fact that the textbooks are not available in markets and some of the textbooks which were earlier available in the market have failed to impress the main stakeholders particularly the students and the parents who say these textbooks are outdated and do not meet the standard of the private school children.

The parents have voiced their concern saying that the content published in the JKBOSE textbooks for primary classes was taught to their kids in private schools in Kindergarten classes.
"My kid is in 1st primary class and as per the JKBOSE textbook, she has to study the Standing line and the Sleeping line in English which was taught to her in Kindergarten class in the private school. The content of JKBOSE textbooks is poor. We are against its implementation in private schools," said a parent who is a college professor by profession.

Going by the sequence of the events it seems that the JKBOSE has taken the decision in haste which apparently seems to be bouncing back on them owing to their ill preparation for execution of their decision.

Before making it mandatory for private schools, the JKBOSE should have set its own house in order instead of expanding their decision to the private schools. Taking a hasty decision has not resolved the problem but has added chaos and uncertainty all around. The parents are worried about the kids and their future.

The chaos surrounding the government's decision on textbooks in Kashmir's private schools underscores the critical need for effective planning, coordination, and consideration of stakeholders' concerns.

It is important for the J&K School Education department to address this chaos, which is essentially its own creation, because this concerns the future of children which cannot be put at stake whatever the reasons be. Compromising quality will be highly detrimental to the academic profession of students, besides their mental health which has already taken a hit due to this ill-conceived and illogical decision. It is time for the authorities to wake up before the mess spreads its tentacles.