Outcry as guidebooks turn epidemic

Published: 02:59, Oct 19,2018 | Updated: 18:43, Mar 20,2019


Teachers and guardians have expressed serious concerns about the widespread use of guidebook and sought immediate steps to stop the menace in order to save students from losing interest in textbooks. Talking to New Age Staff Correspondents Mohiuddin Alamgir, Taposh Kanti Das, Ferdous Ara and Rashad Ahamad, they have also expressed fear that rampant use of guidebooks at classroom and home is affecting students’ creativity, innovation and trial and error policy learning


Professor Narayan Chandra Saha
Chairman of National Curriculum and Textbook Board


Guidebook and notebook of course put a negative impact on learners. We prepare textbook keeping in mind curriculum, leaners’ strength of understanding, their age and class. We also maintain sequence so that a leaner can be innovative and acquire problem-solving skills, learn by doing and develop creativity. But guidebook and notebook go by short-cut method and do not consider these things.
Textbook is important for ensuring continuity in acquiring knowledge and skills in terms of ideology and vision of a county, history and culture, demands of contemporary time, science and technology and so on.
Guardians have result-oriented attitude; they want result from their children. If they can change their attitude, it will reduce pressure on the students. We give only a few books, but guardians pressing for result bring guidebooks, adding to the burden of a learner.
I cannot say that 100 per cent teachers are fulfilling their duties. A quarter of teachers are of course engaged in the guidebook preparing business and campaigning for them.
There is no alternative to textbook for building creative and skilled human resources.
Printing, publication, import, distribution and sale of note-books on text-books for primary schools and secondary schools till Class VIII are banned.
We cannot do anything against printing, publication, import, distribution and sale of note-books. We cannot catch them and punish them as we do not have any jurisdiction to do so. It is Directorate of Secondary and Higher Education which is to monitor these activities.


Professor Nehal Ahmed
Vice-principal of Dhaka College


Guidebooks harm students in many ways. The most harmful one is that it damages creativity and innovative faculty of students. They lose their interest to know more about a topic. They never try to think differently. They tend more to memorising without understanding the topic as they get ready answer from guidebook and notebook.
Guidebook limits students’ thinking capacity as they copy from the guidebook as it provides answers to questions. When they go through such a process, they will give no attention to classroom activities. They will search for easy way to get high marks in examination.
They may get the correct answer from guidebook but will not get opportunity to learn from trial and error process.
Everyone acknowledges that classroom activities are needed for proper learning. Students should not think guidebook as an alternative to classroom teaching.
For example, a student should learn everything through experiments. If a student fails times and again to solve a mathematical problem, he or she would search different methods but when a notebook and guidebook is available, they will just memorise that. Alternative and different thinking is very much important for a student.
Teachers should encourage creative students in classroom and during marking them in examinations. Same answer to a question is common but knowledge is unique so teachers should evaluate this.
Our educational system is responsible for the spread of guidebooks. To stop it, teachers, guardians and students need to change their attitude towards these so-called books.
The government should change the evaluation process also. Marking system is totally faulty here. In university admission, student’s merit should be given priority over their result. It will encourage students to be creative and that ultimately will reduce the influence of
The government has different initiatives to stop guidebooks but the initiatives failed for many reasons. The government’s monitoring should be strengthened.
Teachers should not encourage students to buy guidebooks. It is a dangerous practice prevailing in our society. It is an example of teachers’ moral degradation.
In many cases even the teachers themselves are not aware about the matter as they also learnt through the same process and now cannot think beyond guidebook.
The government should provide training to teachers so that they can encourage creativity of students.
Guardians also need to appreciate their students for their knowledge, not for their results.

Umme Salema Begum
Principal of Udayan Uchcha Madhyamik Bidyalaya


Guidebooks available in markets are undoubtedly harmful for students. Guidebooks harm students’ brain and their creativity. The government has taken hardly any initiatives against guidebooks as well as against coaching centres.
There were many reasons for it. The main reasons are result-oriented education, unrealistic textbooks and teachers without strong moral character.
What we see in the name of learning is just display of result. Students want good marks, guardians, teachers and also government want to show only result. None is thinking about learning. We should stop this ill practice as it is damaging the future of the nation. All should commit to come out of the tendency.
I firmly believe that teaching is not a profession, rather it is passion. If one has no passion, he/she will never serve the purpose of teaching. We need dedicated teachers. I cannot deny the allegation about falling quality of teachers.
We cannot attract meritorious persons to teaching. The government should ensure honour and honorarium for teachers and stop corruption in this sector. Prestigious posts like that of professor should be created for schoolteachers.
The future of a nation depends on the teachers and how the teachers will teach their students depends on the quality of books. We have no quality textbook. The government should ensure quality textbook to build a bright nation.
Textbooks have compelled students to buy guidebook. Textbooks approved by National Curriculum and Textbook Board are scientific but not easily understandable, even to the teachers. They do not provide any training to the teachers nor provide any supportive materials for the teachers to understand the books. When teachers find it tough to understand the textbooks, just think about the condition of the students.
The government changes syllabus and curriculum times and again, which hampers students’ understanding and forces them to go for guidebook and coaching centre.
I will request the government to take strict actions against guidebook and to increase school hours.

Arif Hossain
President of Bangladesh Publishers and Book Sellers Association


We do not publish and go for marketing any kind of guidebook or notebook. We publish creative books that are supportive to students. The Note-Books (Prohibition) Act, 1980 prohibits printing, publication, import, distribution and sale of note-books on text-books for primary schools and secondary schools up to Class VIII.
A guidebook is what has only question and answers. But our books contain a lot of sample answers of one a particular question. So no question of hampering creativity of students arises.
Allegation against publishers that they, with a nexus of teachers, push and compel student to buy guidebook of a certain publishing house is not authentic.
Usually, bookstores in a remote town are located at long distances. In that case many teachers collect guidebooks from Dhaka and keep them in a bookstore near a school and ask students to collect the books from there. This is, however, not mandatory. If we get any allegation of any irregularities, we take step to address them. There is difference of opinion regarding supplementary books but as far as we know this is well-accepted in many countries like Australia, Sri Lanka and India.
Many teachers do not understand creative method, they cannot set question following the system. In this case, if the students do not go through these supplementary books and do not follow suggestion, they find it hard to understand textbooks and fail to do well in exams.
If you can complete the day to day academic activities at school, I think necessity of these books will come down.

Professor Mohammed Ayub Bhuiyan
Principal of Chittagong Government Commerce College


Although the government puts huge emphasis on education and spends lots of money, the country’s education system is facing many problems. Dependence on guidebook is a key difficulty, which completely destroys the student’s creativity.
At present, due to too much dependence on guidebooks, the number of students has decreased in schools and colleges classrooms. They are reluctant to attend the classes or lecture given by the teachers, as they have guidebooks in their hand.
So, we need to counsel the students and parents so that they read the textbooks rather than memorise the guidebooks.
This is the era of GPA-5. Now students do not sit for exam, rather parents sit for exam. Now-a-days, parents usually have one or two children and sky-high expectation from their children. To meet that expectation, they give them guidebooks, send them to coaching centres, private tutors, music and dance classes. Parents do not want to spare a single moments for their children’s comfort. Situation in coastal areas and hill tracts is more frustrating as there is a lack of education facilities and good teachers in the area. So students of the area are more dependable on guidebooks.
The government needs to give special attention to these backward areas by providing adequate number of skilled teachers and education materials for the areas so that they can flourish equally. During our student life, there is no guidebook. We would go to school regularly, used to go to the library, borrow books, use reference books and prepare notes. But currently, it is rare among students.
There is law a banning guidebook but the banned books are still being used by students of all ages. It is difficult to stop the use of guidebook overnight. I think stopping the use of guidebook is possible if the government takes a comprehensive plan and all tiers follow it seriously.

Hasmot Jahan
Head teacher of Chittagong Government Girls High School


Massive spread of guidebooks came in the wake of the additional number of public exams. Surprisingly, guidebooks have become the main tools for students, some school teachers, private tutors and coaching centres.
Students do not focus on gaining knowledge rather they are busy to get good grades. Thus, learning, the main objective of education, is hampered.
Guidebooks are on high demand as they carry readymade answers. Most of the students now do not read textbooks and prepare their own answers. Guidebooks are helping with achieving good grades and it has become unavoidable part of our education. It has also called in deterioration in the quality of learners.
When these students sit for competitive tests, many of them fail despite their better grades in public exams.
Students of backward areas depend more on guidebooks, its true but who does not?
Textbooks are quite good for students. In creative method, if students can read their textbook carefully, they can easily answer. They don’t need guidebooks at all. Guidebooks just make student indolent and destroy their creativity. So, reading textbook thoroughly is must for a student. Besides, they must practice exercises of textbooks regularly.
Now-a-days parents want their children to be successful in everything. They run after good grades. This is an ill competition and to win in this competition sometimes they provide their children guidebooks and keep them busy with private tutors, coaching centres etc.
We should remember that every child has talent. The most important thing is to show children the right path. If we provide them guidebooks and take them to the coaching centres, it will do nothing but kill their imagination capacity. The government should enforce the law that bans guidebooks.

Prodip Kumar Saha
Head teacher of Shaheed Smriti Secondary Girls’ School, Khulna


Creative system in the secondary level examination has been introduced so that a student can understand any topic from the textbook with the help of class teachers and can write it or tell to his teachers from his or her own understanding.
But, the initiative failed because of the guidebooks which are easy to get. As a result, the students, except a few, are not interested to read as much as they need.
Besides, the guidebooks contain creative answers to questions of the NCTB books they have to study in their classrooms. The books also contain some extra questions. The students think that if they read all those questions, they will be able to pass the examinations. As a result, they remain inattentive in their classrooms. Moreover, most of the students are less careful about reading contexts of the textbooks.
If there was no guidebook, the students would have to be attentive in their classrooms and would understand every topic with the help of class teachers. In fact, the guidebooks are barrier to flourishing the hidden merit to the students.
The government is now providing textbooks from Class I to IX free of cost which is undoubtedly a great initiative but, to my knowledge, a set of guidebook costs at least Tk 3,000. To manage this amount of money for poor parents having more than one school or college-going students is tough. It is a matter of regret.
So, we can definitely say that the guide books have been creating two problems – firstly, achieving the students’ skill in creativity is hindered to a large extent and secondly, the parents have to spend a handsome amount for buying the guide books.
Besides, different textbooks, especially the mathematics textbooks of all classes in the secondary level, should be updated in line with creative system. The students found mathematics questions in examinations in creative system which they do not find in their textbooks.
For Bangla and English grammar textbooks in the secondary level, I know that the topics are discussed in brief. Taking this opportunity, hundreds of writers have been writing grammar books, often sub-standard, and these books are sold in markets and students are compelled to buy them.
I don’t know why NCTB has been providing such abridged grammar books. These books are needed to be more elaborate so that the parents need not spend money to arrange the books.
It is true that the guidebooks and notebooks are banned but these books are being sold in markets in the name of ‘supportive books’.
Several rackets work across the country for selling these guidebooks. If any school authorities agree to promote these books, they get financial kickbacks.
The authorities who are assigned to look after the issues are not working properly.
Publishing such books should be stopped at any cost and the textbooks should be provided to the students more elaborately.

Samapika Halder, guardian


Guidebooks dominate the country’s bookstores for various reasons. Our existing education system is responsible for it. With this deficit, a vested quarter is doing this business as the government is reluctant to take any action against them.
School or college teachers and examiners are not creative. They cannot teach students accordingly as they lack the needed qualification and training. Their mentality is confined to a specific circle because they also had learnt in the same way. Examiners expect a particular answer against a question, not more than it.
For example, it is a common phenomenon that students have to memorise an essay ‘Aim in Life’. If any student writes his/her real aim in life, that student would not be appreciated. He/she would get poor mark.
But if he memories this essay from any guidebook and reproduce it completely, he/she would get full mark. Everyone knows, at the end of the day marks is a factor. Actually we are encouraging guidebooks in such ways.
Still, the aim of these days’ education is to obtain good marks not to gather knowledge. Who have good marks are allowed admission in famous institutions. So, teachers teach only those topics which are important for examination not for acquiring knowledge. For getting good marks teachers suggest guidebooks even. They have other financial benefits too.
Guidebook sellers convince not only the teachers but also the school authorities and offer a handsome amount of money for recommending their guidebooks. Teachers happily take the offer as it also helps him/her in class. Most of the teachers don’t spend enough time in classroom for teaching which also compel students to be dependent on guidebook.
It is also true that the quality of textbook is not good. Politically influential persons rather than educated persons are involved with textbook writing. These political persons, I suspect, have collaboration with the guidebook business.

Mazhar Islam, guardian


At the present time, guidebook is given priority over textbooks for getting high marks. Most of the school teachers and school authorities in capital compel students to buy guidebooks to be benefited financially. They are not caring about the future of a student.
Teachers suggest three to five guidebooks against a textbook. These guidebooks are substandard. But the teachers compel students to buy them as they themselves follow guidebooks. They mark some questions from guidebooks for students for memorising.
They don’t teach with textbooks to impart lessons on any topic. Students have almost forgotten reading textbooks. The situation in villages is the worst. In rural areas, students even don’t know the name of their textbooks because teachers teach them in classroom from guidebooks.
This malpractice ultimately blocks the process of acquiring knowledge. As a result, students are not getting any practical knowledge. Their observation power is at the bottom. If education cannot enlighten a man, his/her main amid of learning is meaningless.
The government should take care of this issue with much importance because our education system for these malpractices is now on the edge. If education fails to ensure proper learning, what is the future of a nation? To stop guidebooks, implementation of existing law is the only way.
The government should check production of guidebooks and sell them at any library without any delay. It should compel the teachers and school authorities not to impose any book except the textbooks. It also should change the curriculum so that students do not feel any need of guidebooks.

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