Every year just before summer vacation ends and the new academic year begins, thousands of school students flock to academic bookshops to buy textbooks. Usually, these new books are used for that specific academic year, only to read from. The most “damage” these books get, a few pencils marks or doodles here and there. That’s all.
However, as April approaches and the students write their final exams, the work of these textbooks is over. They are usually given to the scrap collector and are most likely to end up as waste paper.
The Delhi government wants to change this annual fate of these books as they might not be useful for their owner who has been promoted to the next class but can be used by other kids instead.
Realising this, the Delhi government has issued a circular to all government school to open “book banks.”
Issued by the Director of Education, the circular says, “As the students pass out, they are provided next set of books (of the higher class) and books of the previous class become redundant. Schools are hereby directed to collect usable old textbooks from the students of all the classes to establish a Book Bank under the Eco-Club in every school.”
Forming book banks will serve two critical purposes.
First, it will provide an opportunity for underprivileged students to get their textbooks at subsidised rates or free of charge.
They can thus begin their academic year on a positive note, without being worried about the financial burden of purchasing a new set of textbooks.
Book banks will also serve another eco-friendly purpose. The printing of new books each year costs a lot—financially as well as in terms of paper and other resources. After a short use of nine months, these books end up with the scrap collector. How many times have you gone to a Bhel stall, and were handed over the bhel in torn textbook pages?
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While re-using the paper in such ways is a good example of recycling, textbooks can have a longer life if they are handed over to those who truly need them.
Book banks can reduce the costs of textbook printing by a large margin if they are utilised sincerely by government schools. Before Delhi, Punjab had started this concept of book banks to cope with the shortage of textbooks being faced by several government schools.
The move was inspired by the recommendation of the National Green Tribunal to utilise used textbooks in a better manner and will be undertaken by School Management Committees.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)