Compulsory Reuse of Textbooks #SaveEarth

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As a student, I will never forget the hasty and often unnerving experience of the beginning of a new academic year. Reports aside, a long list of books remains the subject to my parents’ dread and multiple sighs. However, we’ve always failed to realize how we aid in, wrongly at that, a mammoth wastage of scarce natural resources in publication of new books every year. It starts with cutting of trees and transportation of wood to factories. Next in line is the processing of wood with huge quantity of water for production of paper and finally, publication with use of ink. Energy remains essential throughout this procedure.

To get an idea of the quantum of resources, looking at and comparing numbers is important.

  • About one tree is used to make about 8,333 sheets. 
  • An average textbook has about two-hundred pages.
  • Average number of textbooks used by a student is six.
  • Number of trees used for books of a student is about one-seventh.
  • Approximate student population of Delhi is forty-five lakhs.     
  • Number of trees used to produce textbooks for students in Delhi is about 6.5 lakhs.
  • There are about 3150 lakh students in India. 
  • Number of trees used to produce text books each year 450 lakhs.
  • In addition, it would require 190 litre of water to process one tree into paper and 600 kWh of electricity.
  • Cost of education in India on average is Rs. 7,000. Delhi, however, has the highest cost of education in the country at about Rs. 20,000.
  • The cost of books is 25% and 17% of the total education cost in rural and urban areas, respectively. (NSSO Survey 2014)
  • An average complete set of books costs about Rs. 1000 - 3000.

At the end of the academic year, formerly worshipped books are now abandoned as garbage, sold to the kabadi and raddiwalas or in some cases, handed off to younger siblings for beforehand preparation. The question that requires asking is why are there hundred and thousands of brand-new books when we are all capable of reusing old, equally educating books? We all have religious books at our houses which we use for years with ease, don’t we? What makes text-books different in terms of scope for reusing? If enough care and attention is given to books by students during the year, then these can be very much reused by their juniors and so on. If the same set of text books is used for four years, it would save about five lakh trees in Delhi alone.

India has the largest student population in the world at 315 million and many schools seem to have found great profits in this cleverly discreet maneuver of parents’ credibility. Schools also use excuses of new editions to increase prices of textbooks, when the only real change happening is the addition or removal pictures and, changes in page and chapter order.  Few are the occurrences of changes so huge that publishing of the textbook again is required. Usually, these are merely changes by the publisher to get more readers which schools eagerly accept.

The average cost of text books in a set is about Rs 2000/- which can be reduced to Rs 500/- with this practice. Underprivileged students find it hard to afford the fees even when not inclusive of the books’ cost. Though, under RTE some students get books for free, the government is still burdened with the funding of these books. Money is wasted and trees are cut, irrespective of who purchases it. If sets of textbooks can be reused each year, it makes it easier for all classes of earning parents to access these facilities.

For students in Delhi alone, annual savings would work out to be Rs 675 crore. Imagine this money being used to upgrade our education and health infrastructure. Besides, past studies have shown that enrollment in schools is cost-sensitive, which implies that reduction of education cost could have a positive impact in the mission of achieving 100% literacy.

This practice of reusing text books isn’t completely new or obsolete; it’s recent and it has been in existence in western world with various degree of success. China also started this in the years 2008 and 2009. Various schools and organizations in India itself, have shown indication of adopting this practice, but without much impact.

Burdening people or receiving credit isn’t the purpose of education, neither is the destruction of our natural and most importantly, finite resources. Education should be the very reason why Earth lives for as long as the rest of the universe, not why it dies of an early, unnatural death. This is all basic and it ought to be done for real, not to be stowed away in history as another sheer forayat changing humanity’s cruel habits for the greater good.

This issue needs attention of Our Hon’ble Chief Minister and Education Minister. With their ongoing emphasis on improving accessibility of quality education to all, this initiative would be one step forward in that direction. Given precarious situation of earth, it’s time to act to save our forests and rivers. I would urge them to pass suitable orders to make reuse of text books mandatory.

This is to also urge also fellow students, teachers, parents and society as a whole, to stop and give a thought to how recklessly vindictive we have become, to how we have happily and to some extent of relief, given access to such a big part of lives to utterly dumb and wrongreasons. To think of wasting money which could be used to do so much more in addition to mere purchase of textbooks. To be so close to that, but to yet cave into our tendency to not right what has gone wrong because it is too much effort- is just shameful. If Earth indeed, is ours then, so is the responsibility to care for it when it’s suffering; to not to remain absorbed in our happy worlds, because if Earth is why we live, it is also very much capable of becoming why we won’t anymore.

Sign this petition to spread awareness to those who haven’t realized the grave mistake they’re making and of its consequences that all of us will face together, that is, if we’re too late.

                                    SAVE  950 LAKH LITRES OF WATER
                                     SAVE  3 LAKH MW of ELECTRICITY

                                   TO EDUCATE ALL AND TO SAVE EARTH.