Are NCERT books really mandatory for CBSE schools? – Clearing the myth

A question that Go4Reviews Legal team often receives from parents and schools alike is whether NCERT books are mandatory for CBSE schools? Through this article, we intend to inform parents about the current status of mandate of NCERT books for CBSE schools. We are going to look at the 5 main directives (by concerned authorities) that govern this topic. These are:
1) Circular by CBSE in April, 2016
2) Circular by CBSE in April, 2017
3) Follow-up circular by CBSE in Dec, 2017
4) Direction by Madras High court in May, 2018 and
5) CBSE affiliation byelaws in Oct, 2018

Direction 1- Circular by CBSE in April, 2016

In April 2016, CBSE came up with the circular No. Acad/13/2016 dated 12.04.2016 that directed schools not to force children and their parents to buy textbooks other than NCERT/CBSE textbooks.

Direction 2- Circular by CBSE in April, 2017

In April 2017, CBSE came up with the circular No. CBSE/AFF/CIRCULAR/10/2017 dated 19.04.2017 that directed schools not to coerce parents to buy text books and stationary from within their premises or selected vendors only. This circular was not related to NCERT books but has been reproduced here to let parents know that schools cant force parentsto buy books from them only. Same prescribed books can be bought elsewhere.

Direction 3- Follow up Circular by CBSE in Dec, 2017

In Dec 2017, CBSE sent a follow up circular to its last circular of April, 2017 where CBSE mentioned that schools can open a small outlet to sell books and stationary items. However, the school shall sell only NCERT books from the outlet. You can download the circular from 

Direction 4- Madras High court order in May, 2018

On May 29, 2018, Madras High court took the above circulars from CBSE in cognizance and ordered all CBSE schools to use NCERT books only.

Direction 5- Byelaws amendment by CBSE in Oct, 2018

CBSE had filed a plea against the Madras High court order in August, 2018. Post that, CBSE amended its byelaws to give an option subtly to schools to pursue non-NCERT text books as well. As part of the byelaws published on 18th Oct, 2018, it mentioned ” The school may prescribe NCERT textbooks in the classes and subjects in which these have been published by the NCERT. Extra care should be taken in the selection of books of private publishers so that there is no objectionable content that hurts the feeling of any class, community, gender or any religious group in the society. The school shall put a list of prescribed books on its website with the written declaration duly signed by the manager and the principal to the effect that they have gone through the contents of the books prescribed by the school, and own the responsibility.” The byelaws used the word ‘may’ thereby allowing schools to take a decision on their own. The byelaws can be downloaded from



There have been no follow ups or directions by any authority post the last amended byelaws of CBSE, which was published in Oct, 2018. Hence, a conclusion can be drawn that schools can prescribe non-NCERT books only if the list of such books is uploaded on its website with signatures of principal and manager of the school.



Last Updated on January 7, 2020 by Go4Reviews

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9 thoughts on “Are NCERT books really mandatory for CBSE schools? – Clearing the myth

  • April 4, 2023 at 9:36 pm

    CBSE bye-laws in this regard is also misleading. What happens if a private school prescribes NCERT book and other publisher’s text book in a subject simultaneously covering the same syllabus? For eg, a school prescribes a Maths text book of NCERT and another private publisher where student has to purchase the text book twice for the same subject when both cover identical syllabus. Also, the books have to be purchased from school counter only. What purpose does it serve, other than making the parents pay twice for one text book???

    • April 6, 2023 at 1:07 am

      you are right. The rule book is vague and gives enough scope of being mis utilized. But, at the same time, it gives enough scope for schools to be more thorough and detailed with the course. Its a different thing that not all schools do it in the rightful manner.

  • March 12, 2020 at 3:54 pm

    My child school has been asking to buy private books since last 3 years. What shall I do? is it really important to follow that?

  • March 3, 2020 at 2:27 am

    Not many parents are aware of this important information, thanks for sharing…

  • January 17, 2020 at 4:11 am

    Useful information as always. Thanks.

  • January 7, 2020 at 7:54 pm

    Need to talk to your legal team as school of my son is asking to buy costly books. Is there a limit on cost of books as well?

  • January 7, 2020 at 7:53 pm

    My child’s school was showing an old circular to me and now i know how to respond. Thanks as always

  • January 7, 2020 at 7:52 pm

    As usual, you are helping parents like us. I liked your freebies for girl child related article as well.

  • January 7, 2020 at 7:51 pm

    This is an important info. Don’t think schools share such non-ncert books list on their website and cbse too is sleeping

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