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To provide relief from buying text books at high prices, NCERT books will be made available to students of all public and private schools. However, choice should be available and option should be given to the school students, said secretary to the union school education and literacy ministry Anil Swarup

“So far our information goes CBSE has 20,000 schools and 13 crore books are consumed (used) by students. But while the maximum price of a NCERT book is Rs 50, that of a non-NCERT book goes upto Rs 300,” he said, on the sidelines of a ASSOCHAM programme on education in Kolkata.

The students of 20000 schools spent Rs 650 crore while buying NCERT books, however for non-NCERT publications they have to spend Rs 3900 crore, he said. “This is not a small margin. I am worried about the financial burden on the school children – there is no qualitative comparison.”

Suggesting that non-NCERT were of better quality, he said, “If you consider the performance of students of Kendriya Vidayalaya and Navodaya schools where 100 per cent of books are NCERT publications, the performance percentage of these institutions is much better than other institutions.”

Asked about the time frame when NCERT books would be made available, Swarup said orders would be sought from public and private schools in the NCERT website in the first week of August so that advance preparations are made and the entire supply chain is put in place. About reducing the burden of heavy school bags of children, the secretary said “We are looking at it very seriously.”

On options to tackle the situation, he said one is the electronic option of digitising some of the books. The second option is splitting the academic year into two semesters, while the third option is to keep the books in school. The final view is, however, yet to be taken, Swarup said adding “But I agree with the opinion (of children saddled with heavy school bags).”

Swarup earlier addressed the audience at a function ‘Transforming Lives Through Education and Innovation cum Education Excellence Awards 2017’.