PUNJAB: In four years, 6.09 lakh students have enrolled in government schools of Punjab; pushing the count up from 23.82 lakh to 29.91 lakh. The rise in the number is attributed to students leaving private schools and joining government ones a reversal of the trend over the years.
It is all thanks to changes in public school system. Gone are the days of shabby-looking government schools devoid of modern equipment. These schools are now showing better results and even in border areas, teachers have been recruited as part of a special drive.
Government teachers are now better trained while cheating in exams has been checked. A programme has been launched to increase the learning levels of students. In 2016-17, the total strength of students in 19,138 government schools of Punjab was 23.82 lakh, which increased to 24.34 lakh in 2017-18. In 2020-21, the count reached 27.20 lakh and this year till May 28, there were 29.91 lakh students.
Multimedia technology has made a bold entry as 12,976 smart schools have been set up across the state. Normal primary, high and senior secondary government schools were converted into smart schools in two years. The students are now taught through e-content (digital teaching) through projectors. The medium of instruction is optional between English and Punjabi.
Besides, there are computer and science labs, indoor stadiums and vocational education. Pre-primary classes have also started in these schools for the first time. The results of government schools have improved by 28%. In 2017-18, the result of Class XII was 68.90%, but in 2019-20, it moved up to 96.95%. Similarly, Class X result was 58.14% in 2017-18, but in 2019-20, it was 100%. In 2020-21, it is 99.96%.
Krishan Kumar, Secretary (Education), says government school teachers are now motivated to take extra classes after schools hours and during holidays. “The department organises science, math and social studies’ fairs to impart practical knowledge,’’ says Kumar.
A special border school teachers’ cadre was set up in 2018 to discourage teachers from frequently seeking transfer to major cities. The six border districts are Fazilka, Ferozepur, Taran Taran, Amritsar, Gurdaspur and Panthankot. As many as 12,760 teacher posts have been filled in these towns. The newly recruited teachers work in these districts only. “The government has also issued a teacher transfer policy in which a teacher can opt for his or her place of posting depending upon one’s performance,’’ Kumar says.
Breaking the chain of hierarchy, the education department in 2018-19 started direct recruitment of heads of schools— principals, headmasters and block primary education officers. Thus, youngsters got a chance to show their management skills. “154 principals, 672 headmasters, 1,558 head teachers, 375 centre head teachers and 38 block education officers were recruited,’’ he says.
The education department has also launched a program ‘Parho Punjab Parhao Punjab’ to enhance the learning level of students. “English language booster clubs have been formed in schools to help students overcome hesitation and improve their spoken English. Besides, Akharkari (telegraphy) project has been started to improve the handwriting of students as well as teachers and listening laboratories have been established in all schools,” says Kumar.
Government school teachers are bringing their children to government schools. “Both me and my wife are teachers in Government Primary School at Rajpura. We have shifted our children from a private to a government school because the study environment is much better in the latter without any extra fees,’’ says Major Singh, a primary teacher.
Special cadre for border towns
A border school teachers’ cadre was set up in 2018 to discourage teachers from seeking transfer to major cities. The six border districts are Fazilka, Ferozepur, Taran Taran, Amritsar, Gurdaspur and Panthankot. 12,760 teacher posts have been filled in these towns