Textbook Blunders: Editors' panel kept in the dark about changes
The four-member panel, which compiled and edited two Bangla textbooks for class-I and III, was not notified about some changes in the books distributed among students this year.
Published by the National Curriculum and Textbook Board (NCTB), the books mention that the contents were fine-tuned and modified by five persons.
None of the five, mostly NCTB officials, was in the panel.
The textbooks were written on the basis of the new curriculum developed in 2012 in line with the National Education Policy 2010 for the students of 2013 academic session, Dr Mahbubul Haque, convener of the panel, told The Daily Star yesterday.
Following the distribution of the books among students in 2013, opinions were sought from class teachers, guardians and other stakeholders, and some corrections were made in those later, he said.
"Now the books contain the names of persons who modified the contents. But I knew nothing about the changes. As far as I know, none of us was told about this,” said Mahbubul, a former teacher at Chittagong University.
The other panel members are Dr Syed Azizul Haque, Shafiul Alam and Nurjahan Begum. All of them have long been involved with the NCTB for developing textbooks.
Azizul Haque, professor of Bangla department at Dhaka University, said, "The books contain our names as writers, but they [the authorities concerned] didn't seek our opinion before making the changes in the books."
He said the NCTB should have informed them before making the changes.
The Daily Star yesterday called three of the five government officials who modified the textbook contents, but none of them responded.
NCTB Chairman Prof Narayan Chandra Saha also didn't pick up his mobile phone.
However, NCTB Member (primary curriculum) Dr Mohammad Abdul Mannan said the textbook editors and writers are not usually informed when small corrections are made in those.
"But whenever we make major changes, we inform them."
He said a procedure is followed for making corrections and changes in textbooks.
The NCTB seeks opinion from teachers and students through a try-out at the school level, and then holds workshops with the experts on this.
The final decision is made at the meeting of the National Curriculum Co-ordination Committee, he added.
Azizul Haque said the persons who modified the contents made mistakes instead of making those better.
The famous rhyme "Adarsha Chhele" in the Bangla textbook for class-III is a glaring example of such mistakes, he noted.
In the textbook, the rhyme written by Kusumkumari Das has lost its original order.
It begins inaccurately. The first line reads “amader deshe sei chhele kobe hobe” instead of “amader deshe hobe sei chhele kobe” (when our country will have such a boy).
On the mention of “orna” (scarf) in the alphabet chapter of the class-I Bangla textbook, Mahbubul said they found this word most common in identifying the Bangla letter “ও” (O), as many children see this piece of clothing in their houses.
"We used only a picture of a scarf in the textbook. But now the book contains a picture of a girl wearing a scarf," he said.
The use of the word “orna” for identifying the letter “ও” (O) has drawn huge flak as, many argued, the word is gender-bias: It's a piece of garment worn by adult girls and women. And it's not something that boys and girls as old as five or six would like to learn from their textbook.
Earlier this month, noted educationist Rasheda K Choudhury said writers and editors should be given adequate time and honorarium. "At the same time, their accountability must be ensured."
Those involved with formulating textbooks must consider whether the contents are appropriate for children, noted Rasheda, former primary education adviser to a caretaker government.
The volume of textbooks is increasing every year, and therefore time has come to rethink about the NCTB's role, she added.
In recent times, there has been a volley of criticism on the social media and other forums over some embarrassing blunders in school textbooks.
The education ministry has already made NCTB Chief Editor Pritish Kumar Sarkar and its Senior Expert Lana Humayra Khan officers on special duty (OSD) over the blunders.
Two committees have also been formed to find out the mistakes in the books and also those responsible.