Towards making quality textbooks

Dhaka,  Thu,  24 August 2017
Published : 09 Jul 2017, 20:52:48

Towards making quality textbooks

Full implementation of the textbook review committee's recommendation is essential because steps taken earlier were retrogressive. There is need for looking forward to  a progressive land on the making and efforts should be concentrated on improving the quality of textbooks to the cherished level, suggests Neil Ray
The fracas over mistakes and omission of writers in school textbooks has exposed a deep malaise in the country's education system. Evidently, text books do not receive the attention they deserve. In the 50's and 60's of the past century, frontline students used to finish reading the prose pieces and poems of Bangla immediately after procurement of the books. Does it happen anymore? If it does, it happens in rare cases. Of course, there are distractions today with smart phones and computers taking the centre stage. 

Notwithstanding this fact, one rues over the missed opportunity of making textbooks highly appealing to young learners. Does the National Curriculum and Textbook Board (NCTB) include any write-up like Sundar Howa (to be beautiful), Bhasahaheener Batha (pains of the speechless) any more? Pieces like these were highly absorbing in language, style and theme. Today, writers and editors make the goat climb a tree and familiarise the budding students with orna, a long scarf girls and women use as an extra modesty attire. Such indiscretion has naturally drawn flak and derision from different quarters. 

This is indifference at its worst to the need of learners who must learn lessons with joy. Quality textbooks are likely to be a far cry when the responsibility is given to people who are either unqualified for the job or who just lend their names but do not give enough time and energy to make textbooks as much acceptable as possible to those young ones for whom those books are meant. Children are smart enough to acquire difficult subjects if only it is presented in lucid language and in a simple manner. 

Those who are assigned the job of making the textbooks for school students right from the beginning should be familiar with child psychology. The first condition ought to be to take them into confidence. Once they feel at ease with the topic, they can easily get into it. Even subjects not to their liking can be made considerably attractive by means of presentation, picture included. Language has a magic. To most students it remains unexplored because textbooks are today written mostly in archaic language and style. It is the power of language that makes one a writer. And poets and writers alone should be given the responsibility of selecting the prose pieces and poems. Not all can handle even the task of bringing an original piece into an abridged form. 

Now that the mistakes are being taken care of and the review committee formed by the education ministry has completed its task, it is expected that their recommendation will be executed fully. Notably the review committee has recommended for bringing back the pieces replaced by some others under pressure from a religious outfit. The NCTB has no scope for going for any so-called balancing act. They must go by the recommendations alone.

Sure enough, this does only correct a wrong that was effective with an ulterior motive. Strangely, a few heads at the periphery rolled but not the ones that mattered most. This will give a wrong signal. If the main culprits behind this foul acts were punished for their part, none would dare do commit similar wrong in the future. 

This is essential because such steps are retrogressive. There is need for looking forward to a progressive land on the making and efforts should be concentrated on improving the quality of textbooks to the cherished level.

Editor : A.H.M Moazzem Hossain
Published by the Editor for International Publications Limited from Tropicana Tower (4th floor), 45, Topkhana Road, GPO Box : 2526 Dhaka- 1000 and printed by him from City Publishing House Ltd., 1 RK Mission Road, Dhaka-1000.
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