The practice of giving free text books to students
8 Dec, 2017
During the MMA government in KPK an idea was practically implemented by introducing free text books to the students of all govt. schools on free transportation to the headquarters of each district. This was a new idea and a great help to the poor government schools children and their parents but it brought with it the flaws of the bureaucracy and lower officials that the supply of the text books did not reach the quarters concerned in time and precious time was lost waiting for the arrival of the consignments. Delays were noticed as well as short supply of many books that were not supplied later. From the distribution point to the schools the burden was to be handled by the schools concerned, bringing unnecessary burden on the schools head specially in the case of far flung hilly areas over precarious road in harsh weather conditions.
This was an ill-conceived idea to create problem in the smooth operation of teaching activities. This also deprived the book sellers from earning meager income on text books and threw them into confusion which they countered by supply of Notes and pocket size books which developed enormously. The book sellers were rendered stranded and were no more book sellers but stationery sellers only. Their skill was lost whereas the government got a few hands in the business. All was the handiwork of a few well connected tycoons of this field who controlled the whole business by excluding the small books sellers. The government got no profit from this change not there were thanks from the community for this step. It was also detected that those text books were also recovered from many stockists much against the expectations. There were better options to provide this facility to the public such as:
The text book supply system could have been executed by giving away the prices of the set of books of each students who could buy them from the market at their own convenience instead of waiting for supply by the education department and instead of paying the a few tycoons as gesture of nepotism the sale price and small commission would go to the small book seller and spread the many to many stake holders instead of few capitalists who got monopoly of this business.
That the payment on the head of transport charges would have been saved by the provincial exchequer. This would have saved time, energy and mishandling of the provision system. The control on the books and feed back by the book selling community would have improved as their problems and the issues of misprints, missing pages, chapters and many other related faults could have been identified and discussed. It would have been helpful to give correct info to the students or their parents as a feedback which is now lacking and none can pinpoint any such mistake that are reported only by an honest teacher which is a rare case. I would suggest to change the system and pay cash to the students the amount of the price of the set of books and hand over the transportation to the books sellers as in the past, and save the transport charges as the exchequer is already facing deficit and no new sources of income have been created by the provincial governments in the last fifteen years except raising taxes. .. Prof. Rahmat Karim Baig, Chitral 07 Dec 2017