A preliminary inquiry has already identified some massive mistakes in school textbooks about a month ago and yet the school authorities and teachers still have not received the corrected versions from the government.
The mistakes were identified a few days after the books were handed over to schools following the textbook festival on January 1. At that time, Education Minister Nurul Islam Nahid had declared that the textbook errors would be corrected and sent to schools as soon as possible, but as no action has been taken, the students continue to study the incorrect texts.
When questioned, the ministry stance has been that further investigation is being undertaken by a team headed by an additional secretary and that committee has been granted a seven day extension to complete their inquiry.
Secondary and Higher Education Division Secretary Sohorab Hossain said: “The probe committee headed by additional secretary Ruhi Rahman has sorted out the errors in the textbooks, but the committee is still working. We are unable to send corrected copies to the schools until the committee’s investigation is complete.”
“Even then, our primary inquiry report notes that the number of errors is minimal, so teachers should be able to make those corrections themselves. The media is blowing these errors out of proportion and as a result is actually hampering the students’ education.”
“There is a conspiracy group in the media which is trying to harm our education system,” he added.
The school teachers, however, have a slightly different viewpoint.
“We have yet to receive corrected copies of the textbooks from ministry, but we are correcting the errors ourselves and continuing to teach the lessons,” said a teacher of a govt girls’ primary school in Gazipur, choosing to remain anonymous.
“But I do not know what the other school authorities are doing. It would be better for all of us if the government corrects the errors. Otherwise, many students who study at home on their own will continue to follow the incorrect texts,” she added.
After the textbook festival day, the National Curriculum Textbook Board’s (NCTB) intentional changes to original texts and numerous spelling and printing mistakes started surfacing on social media.
In a grade one textbook, a minor girl is seen saying “O tey Orna Chai,” meaning “I want a scarf.” The choice of the word ‘orna’ for ‘O’ has been called gender discriminatory on social media.
In the Bangla textbook for grade three, a very popular poem “Adarsha Chele” by Kusumkumari Das appears in the textbook with changed words and spelling mistakes. In one line, the NCTB has supplanted half the sentence.
In the Hindu Religion and Moral Education textbook printed for the third grade, the NCTB printed “Do not heart anybody” instead of “Do not hurt anybody.”
Sohorab Hossain, however, maintains that these mistakes are minor at best.