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New academic year that started last week caught the elementary and secondary education (E&SE) department unprepared as some textbooks were unavailable in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.—Reuters Photo

PESHAWAR: New academic year that started last week caught the elementary and secondary education (E&SE) department unprepared as some textbooks are not available to students of higher grades.

“Shortage of books is common in private schools, while the government schools have been facing deficiency of some books in grade-9, 8 and 7,” principals of private and public sector schools told this correspondent. These principals said that they were trying to retrieve books from old students and hand them over to the students promoted to new classes, but they could not do anything about the books of subjects whose courses had been changed. “We have to wait for the arrival of books of such subjects,” they said.

One of the principals from Peshawar told Dawn that there was a shortage of English and Islamiat books for grade-9 students in various schools. He said that the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Textbook Board had introduced the new course for grade-9, but it withdrew the decision concerning English and Islamiat due to opposition from religious parties.

He claimed that the newly-published books of English and Islamiat couldn’t be introduced, while the publication of old courses would take time.

Another principal of a high school said that they had provided copies of different books to the teachers and asked them to explain the lessons on blackboards in classrooms.

Sometime two to three students share a single book during the lecture, he said.

A school principal from Chrassada told this correspondent that the grade-9 students had not read a single word in the previous week due to unavailability of physics, chemistry, biology, English and Islamiat books.

“We will retrieve the old books of English and Islamiat from the students promoted to grade-10, but we can’t do anything about the new course books of physics, chemistry and biology,” he said.

He said that the books of newly-introduced subjects of computer science, geography and history for grade-6, 7 and 8 were also not provided to his school. He said that the EDO Charsadda had recently ordered teaching English medium courses for grade-9 and 10 in 12 schools, but the courses had also not been made available.

“We had demanded the needed books from the EDO three months prior to the examinations,” he said, adding it was now the government’s responsibility to provide books to schools.

Sources in the education department claimed that the EDOs had not collected the data properly concerning the demand of books.

Provincial president of Private Educational Institution Management Association Khwaja Yawar Naseer, when contacted, told Dawn that they were facing shortage of books of Urdu, Islamiat, Pakistan Studies for students of grade-1 to 10. There was also shortage of science subjects in English medium schools for grade-9.

“We buy these books from the market and the textbook board should ensure their availability,” he said.

Mr Naseer said that currently they were distributing copies of one chapter among the students to teach them. He hoped that the books would be supplied to the market before completion of the first chapters of different subjects.

District education officer, Charsadda, Jahangir Khan, told Dawn that the government provided free textbooks to the students which could be used for three years. “We make demand for new books from the textbook board keeping in view retrieval of books from the students,” he said. He said that sometimes the students returned their books, but these were not in good shape to be reused.

When contacted, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Textbook Board chairman Dr Fazlur Rahim Marwat said they had provided over 30 million free books to the government schools. “We provide books to each district according to demand by the respective EDO,” he said.

About the shortage of books in private schools, he said that they had supplied sufficient books to selected bookstores throughout the province.