A number of new textbooks for primary and secondary level students have given rise to controversy in the county. The National Curriculum and Textbook Board (NCTB) has published a new set of textbooks in line with the revised curriculum with effect from 2023. Many have already detected various errors, omissions, flaws, mistakes and distortions in these books. Some also alleged that there is an intentional move behind these to distort the learning and thinking process of the new generation.
Though the authorities are trying to defuse the criticism by saying that all the mistakes will be corrected and revised, they are yet to acknowledge the gravity of the problem. It is also difficult to comprehend why the manuscripts were not thoroughly checked or edited before sending to the press for printing. The publication of new textbooks was decided much earlier. So, there was sufficient time to write, edit, review and finalise the books. The authors and editors of these books are well-qualified, and many are renowned intellectuals of the country. It was expected that they would leave no scope for gross mistakes and controversy over contents. In reality, it doesn't happen.
It is true that textbook errors are not new in this country. What is most disturbing is the continuation of the mistakes in different ways. Over the years, citizens have observed that more sincere efforts are needed to make school textbooks error- and controversy-free. Unfortunately, NCTB officials and staff responsible for printing and publishing the books also do not face any punishment or penalty for wrongdoing.
Critics have argued that there are two problems with the new textbooks. One is mistakes and errors regarding facts, information, grammar and spellings. Another significant problem is the approach taken in some of the textbooks to teach pupils history, literature, religion and social sciences. Some critics argue that there is no straightforward approach. Another group observed that some distorted and biased approach is there to teach history and society.
It is to be noted that the distorted history of independence and the liberation war in 1971 was in the textbooks for long. These distortions were, however, corrected a decade ago. Nevertheless, it is a sad thing that controversy and distortion are still haunting the new textbooks. That's why various allegations are there.
It appears that errors and distortions in the new textbooks primarily originated from the non-professional attitude and careless works of the NCTB. The authorities, thus, need to take adequate measures to correct the errors, revise the misleading approach and finally make a clear public statement in this connection. However, only brushing aside the allegations and criticism as false and fabricated will not solve the problem.
Finally, it has to be remembered that tax money finances the preparation, printing, publishing and distribution of the textbooks every year.
Thus, the NCTB is accountable to the taxpayers of the country who do not want to see the misuse of public resources due to careless works of the relevant bodies. Correction and revision of the textbooks will require additional funds. Though it will be made available, the critical question remains, why the taxpayers will bear the unnecessary costs.