review meeting chaired by Prakash Javadekar, Union minister for human resource development, decided to make National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) study materials mandatory for all Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) schools across the country .

This is expected to standardise the curriculum across CBSE schools in the country . It is also a welcome relief for millions of parents forced by schools to purchase textbooks from private publishers, often at prices ranging between 300% and 600% higher than the NCERT books.

A senior HRD officials said NCERT has been directed to make all the textbooks available, in adequate numbers, through its 680 empanelled distribution vendors across the country by the last week of March, so that the April deadline for the 2017-18 academic session can be met. All the CBSE schools will have to raise their demand online on CBSE's website by February 22, 2017.

The MHRD decision comes after complaints by schools and parents about non-availability of NCERT books on schedule, and also by parents about schools selling expensive books by private publishers.

“Many schools have book kiosks on their premises.As well as selling exorbitantly priced textbooks from private publishers, these shops sell `bundle packs' that include pencils, erasers, and other stationery, which would cost a lot less for parents in the open market. We have also noticed that private publishers are sponsoring several school heads on junkets to countries like Switzerland,“ a senior HRD official said.

A CBSE official said that based on the mandatory disclosure of its schools, the board has an accurate estimate of the quantum of NCERT textbooks necessary for Classes I-XII for any academic session. “We now know the num ber of students a school has class-wise, rather than section-wise. As schools raise their demand online, we will know whether they are requisitioning for adequate number of books. The numbers may vary, as March is also a month of admissions. But the schools are expected to factor this in their purchases. CBSE will also monitor the annual subscription by schools,“ the official said.