From last many years, the Punjab Government is distributing books to the children of public schools free of cost. The motive behind this initiative is to facilitate those students who cannot bear the burden of books as per syllabus. Million of books including science, arts are distributed in the students free of cost, so that they don’t have to buy them at costly price from local market.
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In the Educational year 2016-17, the Punjab education department through Punjab education foundation has decided to distribute the book in public as well as partner schools. However, this time, the PEF has taken some serious steps and the notification included many things about distribution strategy. Firstly, the books will be sent to schools according to the demand that will be put by respective authority and only enrolled students will be entitled to receive free books
Many times in the past it has been seen that the books given to the schools for distribution found at local shops of used paper trade or at book shop for their illegal sale. However this time, Punjab government has directed the district offices of education department to monitor book shops in their areas and action should be initiated against the schools or individuals found involved in illegal sale or purchase of these books.
The notification also warns that in case of any proof regarding the illegal sale and distribution against rules, the partnership will be canceled with immediate effect. The notification also made it clear that not only just cancellation but legal action can also be taken. If the books are in surplus and due to some reason cannot be distributed, they will be sent back immediately to PEF. The schools after getting the books will be responsible for their safety and proper management of distribution.
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Well, the circular took all the important issues under its core address but still the credibility of fair distribution is still a question. Who will check the books distribution in school or if the surplus are not being sent back. What about the sale of books at local used paper shops?
These questions should also be included in the circular. The other issue is many schools working in private sector and fulfilling the needs of middle class society are not in the partnership of Punjab education foundation. The students of these schools have to buy the books which are not an easy shopping for the lower middle class families especially those who have many children. The education foundation in this regard can set up a central sale point in its office where the parents could but the books at e.g. 1/4th of original price by showing their income or salary slip.
The Punjab education should also have to set up investigation teams to put a check on overall distribution. The role of headmaster is really detrimental and what would be the punishment for school authorities in case of unfair distribution or sale outside school has found. These issues should be taken into consideration.