KATHMANDU, Sept 23: Computer, Science, Mental Math, Speed Math, Nepali Lekhan, Nepali Vyakaran, Bhasa Saurav, General Knowledge, Grammar and More, Buzzword Workbook, Buzzword Reader, Art Activity, Cursive Practice, English Workbook and English Reader.
These are the course books of a grade one student at a private school in the capital (LRI School, Kalanki) and the situation at other schools, course book-wise, is hardly any different.
According to book dealers, this is solely due to commissions that schools prescribe a huge number of books to students and even change the books almost every year.
“Both the schools and publishers come to us asking to create clients. More books sold means bigger commissions for the schools and for us also,” said Hari Krishna Shrestha, owner of Bidhyarthi Pustak Bhandar at Kalani, which have been supplying course books to students of LRI, DAV and Pinnacle Scholars Academy for several years now.
Shrestha, who has been in the business since the last 16 years, has observed that students, and especially the younger ones, have been utter victims of the commissions game. “As soon as there is a higher commission for some book or material, the schools extend the book list. The number of publishers is ever rising and so is the number of books for school kids.”
The experience of Sanat Aryal of Apechhya Stationary at Kalimati is no different. “Publishers deal separately with the schools and with us. Schools often choose the most expensive books or materials for students as these pay them bigger commissions. Big schools do a really huge business during the academic season,” Aryal discloses.
Meanwhile, despite a Supreme Court order last month to regulate unreasonable fees and textbooks at private schools, the schools do not seem to be bothered much.
Talking to Republica, PABSON (Private and Boarding Schools Organisation, Nepal) Chairman Baburam Pokhrel said that 15 or 20 books for a child is not a matter for worry at all. “More books means smarter kids. They will be able to take on a bigger burden tomorrow only if they are made used to this from an early age. How can you say 15 books are a burden for a class one kid? Many schools have arrangements for leaving a few books at the schools as well,” he said while refusing to say much about book comissions.
Popular child psychologist Dr Ganga Pathak feels that it is the height of ignorance for Pokhrel to say this. “Burdening a grade one student with 15 books, who is normally six-years-old, is sheer injustice and counterproductive. The more so as our education system is not at all interactive or participatory.
Having to read so many books in a strict environment cannot help the children in any way. It is like pouring 10 liters of water into a 5 liter bucket,” she said.
But Pokhrel insisted that schools cannot be restricted with regard to ´reference materials or books´ “The education act allows us to use reference materials. They actually help the kids, not burden them.”