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Now, school textbooks, e-module from Encyclopaedia Britannica

By The Assam Tribune

NEW DELHI, March 10 (IANS): Encyclopaedia Britannica textbooks and an online study module will hit Indian schools from April 2010 in four subjects - computer science, mathematics, environmental studies and general knowledge, says its president Jorge Cauz.

This comes six months after the knowledge giant made inroads into the school textbook business in India with a cache of 30 books, 10 knowledge CDs and nine teachers' manuals.

"The fact that the Indian government is stressing knowledge beyond the classroom and is devising a new school education system will help us grow," Cauz told IANS.

The Britannica books cover the National Council for Education, Research and Training (NCERT) syllabus from Classes 1 to 8.

"While the books published in September 2009 will be included in the school curriculum in April 2010 as additional tools to supplement NCERT knowledge, access to the education portal will be made available on the basis of subscription."

The Internet modules under BOLSE (Britannica Online School Edition) have been created for three levels - elementary (primary), high school and senior high school - covering Classes 1 to 12.

Cauz said the "e-module was viable in the country with the increasing penetration of computers at the school level".

"Currently, we are mapping the Indian school syllabus with NCERT and SCERT - the state education boards - to incorporate the broad syllabus of Classes 1 to 5 in our primary database," Cauz said.

"We have the online school portals interactive so that our database users can post their inputs and suggestions," he said. The portal which operates on broadband and explains respective subject modules to students with graphic three-dimensional images, voiceovers, blurbs and short notes.

The textbooks, on the other hand, use simple everyday examples to explain complex theories, he said.

The company has adopted a business model of "direct selling to individual schools".

Explaining the reason, Cauz said, "The model curriculum publishing market in India is huge. The Internet education market is also growing. But the education market in India is basically a prescriptive market and our consumers are the private schools in the country. There are multiple examination boards like the CBSE, ICSE and state boards that implement their specific syllabi in various schools.

"Though government schools use books published by government bodies, private schools are free to choose books and add-ons from private publishers. This is the segment that Britannica wanted to cash in on to enter the Indian education market."

According to Cauz, business has been growing steadily in India ever since it entered the country with an editorial team that helped put together the "Encyclopaedia Britannica of India". "We have a similar Sri Lankan edition," Cauz said.

The new Britannica CBSE school books use the "lab" method even to teach subjects like mathematics, general knowledge and environment.

The "Know for Sure", the general knowledge series in English for Indian schoolchildren by quizmaster Siddhartha Basu, tells the theme of the book in the cover of the series.

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