The All Assam Publishers and Book Sellers Association (AAPBSA) on Wednesday launched a four-day statewide strike against free distribution of textbooks to the students of government and government aided schools.
“If free textbooks are provided to the students, it will adversely affect all local book sellers and publishers. Instead, the government should provide scholarship to students so that they can buy books from the market,” AAPBSA general secretary Dhiraj Goswami on Wednesday told Northeast Now.
The association is not against the concept of free textbooks but the government needs to look for other alternatives so that local publishers and booksellers are not affected, Goswami had earlier said.
The booksellers and publishers at Pan Bazar in Guwahati as well as other parts of the State kept their shutters down as a mark of protest.
The Assam government for the first time has decided to provide free textbooks to students up to the higher secondary level from the next academic session.
The decision aims at increasing enrolment in provincialized (government-run) schools of the state. Till now, students in the state would get textbooks free of cost only up to Class VIII.
Reacting to protest of the book sellers’ body, State Education Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Tuesday ruled out the possibility of any review of the government decision.
“Our first and foremost responsibility lies towards students to ensure that quality education is imparted to them. The government has full copyright over the manuscripts of textbooks from class IX to XII. We work with about 55 local printing presses,” sources said.
The Right to Education Act (2009) advocates universalization of elementary education. However, it was seen that after class VIII, the enrollment rates dropped from six lakhs to four lakhs.
The association earlier submitted memorandum to Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal in this regard.