news Monday, July 06, 2015 - 05:30
Photo : Nitin B A month after classes began, seven-year-old Manjima KP has no text books, like lakhs of students across Kerala, while the state government appears unperturbed by the state of affairs. A Class II student at the Chittur Government School in Ernakulam, Manjima says: “The entire class has just one copy of the Malayalam language text book, and that is with the teacher. She reads from the chapters and we write notes. We also take turns in reading from the textbook. My father doesn’t know how to take it from internet.” There are 35 students in her class. Classes for the academic year started in June. Although the government claims that the SCERT textbooks have been printed, that is not the case. Textbooks with new curriculum for Classes 2, 4, 6 and 8 have not been printed while, while the ones have not yet reached schools. The Students’ Federation of India (SFI) took to the streets in protest on Monday, with the march to Secretariat office in Thiruvananthapuram turning violent following clashes with the police. In a bid to offset the delay, the state government has postponed the first quarterly exams, which are usually held before the Onam festival. Students will now take the exam in September instead of August. Education Minister Abdu Rabb has a rather novel explanation. “Exams have not been postponed because of the delay in distributing textbooks. Actually Onam has come a month early,” Abdu Rabb. However, this not entirely true. Onam is usually observed in September and exams are held around 10 days before the exam, and schools break for a 10-day vacation two or three days before the festival. Online text books Even now, the textbooks are available online and parents have been asked to download them from the SCERT website. But with most textbooks running into dozens of pages, not many can afford to do so. This has it difficult for children who study in schools in tribal areas and coastal areas as also students from low income groups tough to cope. “This happens every year now. Whichever government rules, no one cares.  For certain subjects, we don’t get textbooks even when academic year gets over,” NM Muhammad, Headmaster of Darul Uloom School Ernakulam told The News Minute. “We take three or four print out copies of the unavailable text books from the website. One copy per bench, that’s how we study,” says Viniya Raj, a Class IV student of the school. The District Information System for Education (DISE) for the year 2013-14 showed that Kerala had the worst textbook distribution system, and about 70.72% of the schools do not receive books on time. This time it seems Kerala may break its own dismal record.