Most Rawalpindi private schools affiliated with the government board are not using textbooks prepared by the Punjab Text Book Board at primary and middle-school levels, and instead they are using books by private publishers.
A senior government official requesting not be named said all private schools affiliated with a government board — the Rawalpindi Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education in this case — were bound to cover the syllabus with board-approved books.
“The education department formulated the syllabus after taking all stakeholders including representatives of private schools into confidence, but private schools are not willing to implement it in their institutions,” said the officer.
He said that the syllabus being taught at private schools was a violation, but the department was helpless to convince them to implement it. He also said that there was no criterion for selection of books.
He said there are 3,000 private schools in the district, each with its own syllabus at primary and middle level, except for grades five, eight, nine and 10, as the exams for these grade levels are held under different boards.
“Over a dozen private publishers regularly send their agents to private schools to convince owners to purchase their books with special incentives,” he said.
While taking advantage of weak rule implementation by the government, private schools have also added extra subjects to their syllabi.
All Pakistan Private Schools’ Management Association Divisional President Ibrar Ahmad Khan admitted that 95 per cent of private schools prefer books published for the Oxford and Cambridge boards, which according to him, are of far higher quality.
He claimed that there existed no stated criterion for selection of books. Most schools have formed syllabus committees made up of teachers, he explained.
“The committees visits market and pick books. After going through them, they decide which books should be taught at their respective schools,” he said.
Muhammad Aftab, a principal at a private school in Sadiqabad, said that they prefer quality content to better prepare their students for the future.
“This is the reason that students from private schools perform better in exams when compared to students from government schools.”
When parents learn that government syllabus is taught at a private school, they show reluctance to admit their children, he added.
“They ask why they should pay so much for the same subject matter taught at government schools,” said Aftab.
He said that non-availability of Punjab Text Book Board books in the market was another reason schools prefer private publishers.
Education Executive District Officer Qazi Zahoorul Haq said that whenever “we take a decision that goes against the interest of private schools, they go to courts and get stay orders”.
“Under the rules, they are bound to implement the government syllabus, which they are not doing,” he said.
He said that the government was working on a plan to ensure uniform syllabus by improving content quality and making exam reforms, “but it will take some time”.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 17th, 2014.