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Letter from the Editor

Letter from the Editor

Bringing out this August issue of EducationWorld was problematic because the undersigned was laid up in a hospital bed with pneumonia for the major part of the month. It took a herculean effort from our managing editor Summiya Yasmeen to marshal the EW team in Bangalore and across the country to complete this issue without dropping any of our usual features. Moreover, thanks to the smooth efficiency of the team of doctors and the excellent nursing staff of Manipal Hospital, Bangalore — undoubtedly one of the best hospitals worldwide — your editor should be able to play a larger role in our annual blockbuster EW India School Rankings issue due out next month. 

Meanwhile in this issue, the cover story on the astonishingly bad textbooks being commissioned, printed and published by the country’s 31 state examination boards uncovers an open, continuous and uninterrupted textbooks racket that’s being going on for decades. Way back in the heyday of Central planning when the State had to be involved in every activity under the sun, Soviet-style boards/committees were established by state governments to write or commission school textbooks which were printed and prescribed for government and low-end private schools affiliated with state exam boards. Unsurprisingly, over the years these textbooks review committees have degenerated into dens of patronage and corruption packed with under-qualified kith and kin of politicians and bureaucrats. These badly written textbooks in English and vernacular languages — replete with errors of facts and substance — are compulsory reading for children in free-of-charge government and low-cost private schools — including aspirational English-medium schools — affiliated with state exam boards. 

The great iniquity of Indian K-12 education is that children of the middle class in schools affiliated with the pan-India CISCE, CBSE, and offshore boards such as IB, CIE and AP, have access to highest quality globally comparable textbooks while the great majority — over 240 million — of children are obliged to make do with errors-ridden and ill-explained textbooks written by faux intellectuals with formal qualifications from obscure universities. Why has this patent injustice remained unprotested by the country’s academics and public intellectuals? That’s the important question that this first-of-its-type in-depth cover story poses. 

Our special report feature on India’s best think tanks — about which little is known — written by our Delhi-based consulting editor Indranil Banerjie is also very interesting. I am pleasantly surprised to learn that India hosts 280 think tanks which provide governments, corporates, NGOs etc research, capacity building and growth and development inputs. Also check out our Eyewitness feature which focuses a spotlight on the determined efforts of the Mumbai-based ADAPT and the National Resource Centre for Inclusion to make inclusive education and employment a fundamental right of people with disabilities. 

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