Headmasters annoyed over order to pay up for unsold textbooks

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Palakkad: The headmasters of government schools in Kerala will have to dole out a hefty fine in the event of late-printed textbooks lying unsold.

The new mandate comes into force with the State Textbook Audit Section approving an earlier direction of the Education department in this regard. The fine involves the prices of unsold textbooks plus an 18% interest.

The officials are exerting pressure on headmasters to pay the fine despite the High Court's direction that a decision on the matter should be made only after considering the teachers' complaints.

As per the direction of the Education department, the headmasters are required to pay the prices of unsold textbooks for Classes 9 and 10, printed from 2010 to 2021, along with interest.

Some headteachers, who received the notice, moved the High Court. A hearing was conducted based on the court's direction, but a report is yet to be submitted. The issue was also brought to the notice of the Education minister.

How it all unfolded

While the textbooks of Classes 1 to 8 are provided free of cost, students have to pay for that of Classes 9 and 10. Until 2009, the headmasters purchased the textbooks directly from depots of the District Education offices. However, the department began to supply them directly to schools from 2010 onwards, resulting in the crisis.

Often, the textbooks, which were supplied even months after the start of the academic year, remained unsold. This has resulted in a huge liability for schools with more students.

There were instances when retirement benefits of certain headmasters were put on hold, citing non-receipt of clearance certificates on the accounting figures related to textbooks. The department was also not ready to take back the unsold books.

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