Textbook is the most widely used teaching aid for teaching-learning activities. It is the prescribed writing based on curriculum and syllabus. Whether any textbook is standard or not, we can judge through two types of criteria:
(i) academic aspect and
(ii) physical aspect
In academic aspect, any standard textbook’s contents are up-to-date and accurate. The contents must be based on aims, objectives and learning outcomes described in the curriculum. The learner’s age, ability, capacity and mental maturity are considered while writing the book.
The textbook should provide up-to-date maps, illustrations, and topical discussions. Examples given in a standard textbook are contextualised, authentic, and real. The book should provide suggestions for diversified activities. Its content coverage must gender sensitive and unbiased.
In physical aspect, the size of the textbook should be appropriate and its cover design should be attractive. The quality of the paper used in the textbook and its print should be standard. The price of the book must be reasonable.
For a research purpose, I had to review our present secondary school textbooks a couple of days back. Truly speaking, our National Curriculum and Textbook Board (NCTB) have failed to maintain the standard of the textbooks written for the secondary level students.
Here, I am citing a few examples from the ‘Social Science’ textbook for class eight. The cover page of the book is not attractive. Graphics, maps, illustrations and pictures in this textbook are not colorful and attractive. Unfamiliar or specialised terms are not well defined and no sidebars are used that can highlight little-known information.
The textbook does not offer any clearly stated goals or objectives for each chapter before beginning the topics. No section/chapter summaries are included, which can give key ideas and main points supporting the topic discussed in the section or chapter.
The book does not suggest for diversified activities, and there is no instruction which teaching aids should be used in the classroom teaching-learning activities. Although each chapter includes creative questions, it suggests only traditional assessment methods.
Gender equality is not ensured in this textbook. For examples: most of the photographs in the book are of male ones. In page 45, 124, - examples are given in using the males’ name; no female names are used in this case. The textbook has no appendices. No recommended reading is suggested that enables the learners to pursue further information. There is no bibliography (list of books and other reference works used by the author(s) in the textbook.
Needless to mention, an ideal textbook is a prerequisite to any meaningful and effective teaching-learning activities. Therefore, there is obviously a need to improve the ‘Social Science’ textbook for class eight. We hope the NCTB as well as government will take necessary initiatives for upgrading the school textbooks urgently.