Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Wednesday directed the Finance Department to immediately release Rs.80 crore for the school education department, while reiterating his wiliness to slash the budget of other departments to make funds available for the reform of the state’s education sector.The Chief Minister was chairing a meeting of the Expert Group of Teachers here at his official residence this afternoon. The Group comprises principals/head-masters/administrators of schools whose students had performed well in the Board exams, and the Chief Minister had convened the meeting to seek their suggestions on uplifting the standards of school education in Punjab.The Expert Group, led by Kiranjeet Kaur, Principal Government Senior Secondary School, Patiala, had earlier submitted its recommendations to the Education Minister.During discussions on the various suggestions and inputs received from the Group, the Chief Minister reiterated his stand that paucity of funds would not be allowed to come in the way of overhauling the state’s education system. The Chief Minister directed the Secretary Education to work out a detailed scheme for strengthening school infrastructure so that sufficient funds could be made available for the same. He also urged Punjab NRIs to come forward to support the state in this effort with generous contributions, while exhorting industry to extend support through their CSR initiatives.The Chief Minister underlined the need to strengthen the District Institutes of Education and Training (DIET) across the state, by providing the best trainers aligned with the latest techniques of teaching. The Chief Minister suggested that if required, the trainer-teachers should be given exposure to the best private schools in the state. He also directed the Education Department to complete the process of setting up new DIET centres in the remaining five districts by the year-end.
During the meeting, the Chief Minister accepted the proposal of Education Minister not to transfer teachers in the middle of the term. He also agreed to the suggestion of the Principal Secretary to create a separate state training cadre, and sought a detailed feasibility report from the Education Department.Highlighting the importance of digitalization of the education material, the Chief Minister instructed the department to intensify its efforts to provide online teaching material to the students, which would be particularly beneficial to students in remote border and other areas or in the case of vacancy of a particular subject teacher. The Secretary for School Education informed the Chief Minister the e-content for all the subjects, in accordance with the curriculum, would be ready before the year end.In response to a recommendation by the teachers, the Chief Minister agreed to press the Government of India for a review of the no-retention policy, whereby students from Class 1 to Class 9 are promoted irrespective of their dismal academic performance. It was felt by the expert group that the policy was encouraging indiscipline amongst students who did not attend regular classes nor took the efforts of their teachers seriously.Captain Amarinder Singh also agreed to a suggestion on rationalisation of block master trainers and cluster master trainers under the Learning Enhancement Programme, saying that the training should be need-based.The Chief Minister suggested organizing teacher study-tours to states like Kerala and Himachal Pradesh to acquaint them with the teaching practices prevailing there.The meeting was attended, amongst others by, Education Minister O P Soni, Media Advisor to CM Raveen Thukral, Principal Secretary to CM Tejveer Singh, Secretary School Education Krishan Kumar, besides Principals of various state government schools.