Halfway through the academic year, the Punjab government has still not fulfilled its promise to provide free books to public school children students, as over 2,500 children in Rawalpindi remain deprived of textbooks.
Teachers’ union representatives said the issue has been raised several times since start of this academic year, but no steps were taken by the authorities.
“Midterm examinations are around the corner, but thousands of children are still waiting for their books,” Teachers’ Union District President Sagheer Gujar told The Express Tribune on Monday.
He said education department officials are aware of the issue and always make promises to address it when teachers bring it up during meetings.
“Thousands of children will not be able to finish their homework as they don’t have books, and this will also affect their performance in the forthcoming midterm examinations,” he said.
“We even took up the issue with the Punjab Textbook Board chairman and he ordered the provision of books immediately, but the order has not been implemented so far,” Gujar said. He said most schools are giving old books to students as a make-shift solution.
All Punjab Teachers’ Union General Secretary Rana Liaqat said that Rs3.30 billion were allocated for 2012-13 to provide free-of-cost textbooks.
“Despite allocating such a hefty amount, over 30 percent of school children across the province are still without books,” he said.
He said there is no proper mechanism for distributing books and called the existing method “too complicated”.
Explaining the process, he said the education executive district officer (EDO) must first write to the Education Department Programme Monitoring and Implementation Unit (PMIU) to request textbooks. “The PMIU will then place an order for publishing the required number and then send it to EDO offices,” he said, adding that teachers are then asked to take these books to their respective schools for distribution among students.
Liaqat said teachers suggested having the textbook board allocate specific places at tehsil and district level from where children can collect their books in return for vouchers.
Education EDO Qazi Zahoorul Haq said he is aware of the issue and discussed it with the focal person appointed by the Punjab Textbook Board in a recent meeting.
“I asked the teachers to provide details of children lacking books,” he said, while maintaining that he had already sent PMIU a request for the textbooks. He said the books were delayed due to changes in the curriculum, while proclaiming, “No child will be without books after a month.”
Published in The Express Tribune, June 25th, 2013.
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