The UT education department on Monday issued a WhatsApp complaint number for parents of students to lodge complaints against coercion by private schools to buy books and uniforms from specific shops. The Central Board of Secondary Education has already issued circulars to private schools to not coerce parents into buying non-NCERT/CBSE prescribed books.
With parents getting their wards ready for the next academic session at city schools, several instances of private schools forcing parents to buy books and uniforms from specific shops only have been reported to the education department. As per complaints received by harried parents regarding private schools imposing purchase of books, uniforms and other items like bags and stationery from specific shops only, the education department has already issued notices to few private schools in the city seeking an explanation. So far, complaints have been received against Chitkara International School, Vivek High School, St Joseph Senior Secondary School among others. Against the CBSE norms, some of the city private schools are also selling books within the school premises. Officials from the education department have further stated that thorough checks will be conducted and action will be initiated against schools forcing parents in this regard. As per norms, CBSE-affiliated private and government schools are required to only prescribe the books that have been approved by the board. “The books that we prescribe for our students are only going to help them in better understanding of the concepts. The NCERT books are great, but in certain subjects, students need a clearer understanding of topics than what they get through these books. We only have the best interest of students in our mind,” a teacher of city private school told the Chandigarh Newsline. Earlier this month, parents of wards who have got admissions in private schools had also protested in Mohali against the attitude of private schools to impose their own norms. “When the CBSE has prescribed specific books for the students after careful consideration, that are also affordable, why must private schools again try to break the system by bringing in these private books? Private schools have started looting the parents, which needs to be controlled,” said Radhika Kher, the mother of a 7-year-old studying at a city private school. The parents have also alleged that private schools in the city have tied up with private book stores in order to sell costlier books, that only help the schools in gaining profits. The education department is, however, yet to initiate any inquiry in this regard. The principal of a city private school said: “From Classes I to VIII, many private schools just prescribe textbooks printed by private publishers only. The NCERT books are only prescribed in senior secondary only, as the students have to then appear for the board exams. It is however true that books by private publishers cost more than twice the amount that one can buy the NCERT books for.” Even as many parents have protested against private schools prescribing non-NCERT books as they are costlier, some parents believe that the schools know what is best for their children. “I got my daughter admitted into one of the best private schools in the city. Now if the school decides that books from some private publisher are better suited for my ward, why would I ask any questions? I want the best education for my daughter,” said Rashad, the father of a 13-year-old.