The National Council for Educational Research and Training, or NCERT, was set up in 1961 as an autonomous organisation to assist and advise the Central and State governments on policies and programmes for qualitative improvement in school education. Its remit includes research in areas related to school education and the publication of model textbooks (the operative word being ‘model’). A memorandum of association was signed on June 6, 1961, and the NCERT was registered as a charitable society under the Societies Act.
Is there a mandate?
Here is a fundamental question: does the NCERT have the mandate to publish textbooks for commercial use and profit from them? How does the term ‘model textbooks’ empower it to mass-produce and monetise them for profit? Current circulars (one finds three of them so far) from the CBSE regarding NCERT books in CBSE schools make you curious about the NCERT’s actions.
At the 102nd meeting of the executive committee of the NCERT held on April 12, 2016, the Union Minister of Human Resources Development wanted an outside audit of the performance of the publication division to be done. Was this audit undertaken, and what was its outcome? As a taxpayer, could I request the NCERT to publish this report and disclose the name of the audit firm?
If we believe the NCERT has no mandate to publish textbooks, how is it that the CBSE is going all out to promote them in schools? This leads us to a review of the CBSE and its status.
With regard to the CBSE, one of the functions of the professor and director (academics, research, training and innovation) is to publish textbooks for secondary and senior secondary classes.
The regional directors of the CBSE are responsible for all matters concerning the conduct of the main and compartmental secondary and senior secondary certificate examinations, and their administration, the major areas being pre- and post-examination work, declaration of examination results and related activities. Of late, however, it appears they have chosen to empower themselves to also issue notifications from their desks regarding textbooks. None of these…