NCERT officials say the quality has been enhanced over the years

A fresh sets of uniforms, new textbooks and stationery – these usually send any student into a tizzy at the beginning of every academic year. But students and parents who bought the new set of NCERT text books were in for a rude shock as many of the text books are in a poor state. With sheets torn, the binding worn out and many of the photographs blurred, most of these books seem second-hand. For instance, the pictures in the Social Science book for class IX [Democratic politics – I] look pixelated and the sides of the hard cover have been worn out. The same is the case with the history textbook of class IX. “When I brought it to the notice of the teacher, she showed me books that were even worse – the pages were loose,” said a parent whose son is studying at P.S. Higher Secondary School.

Schools, book stores and parents who have been buying NCERT books regularly are not surprised. They say that not much can be expected considering the price (each book costs Rs.45). Besides, not many are willing to raise objections about the quality of books as it is sometimes difficult to get the entire set of books. Parents are relieved enough if a school supplies them as otherwise they would have to go searching for them.

“Textbooks with their colour and print should interest children to probe further into a subject, but these books have always been short of it. The first thing we do after getting all the textbooks is send them for binding, otherwise they will not last for a year,” said R.M. Manickaam, a grandparent of a Kendriya Vidyalaya student.

Most CBSE schools prefer books published by private publishers until class VIII. The Kendriya Vidyalayas are some of the few institutions that prefer NCERT books across classes. Teachers say it can be a shocker to see the difference in quality of these books for students who are used to glossy pages and colours.

V. Krishna Moorthy, a teacher with Chettinad Vidyashram, says the quality of books actually seems to have improved over the years. “For the price you cannot expect it to be of superior quality,” he said. Other teachers say books of primary classes are much more colourful and NCERT generally takes feedback when it introduces a new book.

When The Hindu contacted NCERT officials in Delhi, they said it has been using 70 GSM and 80 GSM paper, thus improving the quality of the prints. “This year, we have also revised our printing rate, from Rs. 30 to Rs. 45 and the quality has been enhanced,” said an official. He added that the books, about which complaints have been received, were probably from last year's stock. Customers could send in their feedback to the Publications Head.

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Liffy ThomasJune 28, 2012