LAHORE: Identifying “minor mistakes,” the Punjab School Education Department has rejected the Class-VIII textbooks’ manuscripts that were granted NOCs by the Punjab Curriculum Authority (PCA).

Private publishers say the move is aimed at “maintaining monopoly of the Punjab Textbook Board.” It is learnt that the School Education Department (SED) is also heading towards reducing the volume of new curricula-based textbooks (for class I to X) that are interactive in nature.

The private publishers, whose manuscripts were granted NOCs, say the review committees had given stereotype findings without even pointing out actual mistakes in most cases. They say the committees’ objections could have been removed within a few days, if shared with them immediately.

The publishers, who had spent millions of rupees and innumerable working hours for the development of Grade-VIII textbooks’ manuscripts, say they were “penalised’ just because of clash of interests between the top officials of the PCA, the PTB and the SED.

As the SED and PTB compel Class-VIII students to study old curricula textbooks, the experts say millions of students will miss 530 Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs) ingrained in the new curricula. These students will also be facing serious learning problems when they will be given latest curricula textbooks in Class-IX next year.

The PTB was supposed to compete in writing of textbooks but it could not submit its manuscripts well in time despite the fact that it had given an undertaking before the Supreme Court that it would submit Class-VIII textbooks’ manuscripts to the PCA being an agency.

The SED secretary had also given a statement before the court that the Punjab government’s selection committee would select seven best manuscripts out of NOC-awarded 116 manuscripts by Jan 29, 2014. The PCA had granted NOCs to manuscripts in December last year.

However, the SED’s committees that were mandated to select seven best manuscripts, reviewed the top three manuscripts each written for mathematics, Islamiyat, English, general science, geography, Arabic and history textbooks. The committees recommended that none of the manuscripts was worth publishing.

The Review Committees’ report on manuscripts of mathematics, Islamiyat, English, general science, geography, Arabic and history rejected all the manuscripts citing errors that are generally related to editing and proof reading as well as presentation.

The report suggests that in mathematics, explanation of sets should be added; exercises be numbered with decimals instead of letters; use of parenthesis, pictures with brief history of mathematicians, solution to practical geometry be drawn in “answer key” as well as font sizes and colours of pages.

About Islamiyat manuscript, the experts said the existing textbook of Islamiyat Grade-VIII was better than the new textbooks/manuscripts.

In English textbook manuscripts, the committees found grammar, punctuation and spelling mistakes. The experts stated that none of the three top manuscripts was suitable to be published as they were full of conceptual and grammatical mistakes.

As for general science, the review committee said the manuscripts contained a number of conceptual and typographical mistakes and they could not be declared error-free.

About geography manuscripts, the committee said the volume of the book was more than 160 pages and needed to be reduced between 90 and 100 pages. It also called for report of plagiarism about the text.

About Arabic textbook manuscripts, the review committee said the standard of the books was not up to the level of Class-VIII students.

It said the history textbook was not suitable to be published as there were many conceptual mistakes and pictures were pasted without justification and at improper places.

Considering the review committee’s report as of “probe committee”, School Education Department Secretary Abdul Jabbar Shaheen had ordered that the process of book development be started without any delay and the PTB should also participate as decided by the Supreme Court.

Pakistan Publishers and Booksellers Association honorary secretary-general Zubair Saeed said had the SED and the PTB been working with good intentions, the mistakes identified by the review committees would have been rectified within a few days.

He alleged that the SED introduced old curricula textbooks to ensure PTB’s monopoly in writing and publishing the textbooks. “The SED and the PTB are trying to do away with the new competitive National Textbooks and Learning Material Policy, which was endorsed by the Punjab government,” he observed.

Mr Saeed said the Class-VIII students would be facing immense learning problems as they would be studying Class-IX modern curricula textbooks next year with Class-VII new curricula competence.

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