Shops compel people to buy extra study materials

The inflated price of uniform syllabus textbooks at shops in Pudhu Mandapam has perturbed parents in the city.

A parent who approached a shop a few days ago said he had to pay Rs.115 to buy a Tamil textbook for Class X. “The actual price of the book is Rs.85. The shopkeeper demanded the extra money for the plastic wrapper he gave with the book. I had to buy it anyway because it was not available elsewhere,” he lamented.

A teacher of a government-aided school said most schools in the city faced shortage of textbooks. “The Education Department issued textbooks based on last year’s student strength. In several schools, the number of books issued was inadequate. There is a delay in distribution of the second set of books. Because of this, students have been forced to buy books from shops,” the teacher said.

Extra school fees

S. Umar Farooq, secretary of Madurai District Students Welfare Parents Association, alleged that a few matriculation schools in the city declined to issue textbooks to those students who did not pay extra school fees. “Those who paid the fee fixed by the government have been asked by the schools to buy books from outside. This has led to demand for textbooks,” he said.

According to him, a few shops in Pudhu Mandapam compelled people to buy extra study materials such as guides if they wanted the textbooks.

However, shopkeepers in Pudhu Mandapam denied the allegations. “We get a profit of Rs.9 for each book we sell. As far as textbooks are concerned, we purchase them from a book depot at Kochadai. The transportation charge itself is Rs.200 and only around five shops in Puthu Mandapam sell textbooks,” said a shopkeeper.

“Ever since free books were issued by the government, the sale at Pudhu Mandapam has dwindled. We do have an extra margin for textbooks, but we do not demand exorbitant prices,” he added.

“We do not compel people to buy extra study materials. There is a demand for Plus One textbooks, particularly First Group books, this year,” another shopkeeper said.

District Educational Officer K. Jaya Meena Devi told The Hindu on Sunday that only two schools had approached the Education Department so far for additional books.

“We made arrangements and brought around 1,000 books from Theni and Kanyakumari districts. We have not received any complaints about exorbitant prices demanded for books in the open market,” she said.

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