There’s now a ray of hope. Last week, two towering piles of books from the Punjab Textbook Board somehow found their way onto my desk. Many bear the imprimatur ‘Punjab Chief Minister’s Programme for Education Reforms’ stamped upon their front cover. This immediately sent to me a negative signal — what business is it of any minister, prime or chief, to advertise himself using public money? But having flipped through thousands of pages I must reluctantly concede that the sin of self-promotion stands ameliorated.
The new books are cleanly printed on paper of decent quality, typographical errors are infrequent, and coloured cartoons show smiling girl children in class. Earlier textbooks typically showed docile boys facing grim-faced elderly teachers. My heart gladdened at suggested science experiments that are both interesting and doable. And, instead of beating the tired old drum of Muslim scientists from a thousand years ago, one now sees a genuine attempt to teach actual science — how plants grow and breathe, objects move, water makes droplets or freezes, etc.