• As in many other states, management of government schools is among the weakest links in the Punjab government functioning, and yet it is ready to take on extra burden of students in these institutions of learning, riled by poor infrastructure, shortage of teachers and non-teaching staff and general mismanagement.

In what is being touted as a measure to strengthen the school system, the Punjab Cabinet on Wednesday gave its nod to a proposal, announced earlier by Chief Minister Capt. Amarinder Singh, of enrolling students for pre-primary classes from the next academic session.


Photo By: Life in Chandigarh

Following the cabinet approval, government schools will from this month itself start enrolling children over the age of three years in the pre-primary classes, which will become operational in the forthcoming academic session. Under the existing rules, government schools could admit children only above the age of six years.

An official press release said, “The move will help ensure holistic and integrated early childhood care and education, and also check the decline in enrolment of children in government schools.”

The release said the chief minister emphasised the need to improve the school curriculum in government schools with inclusion of adequate and accurate account of historical events and heroes to help connect the children to their roots. Local Bodies and Tourism Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu also pressed for inclusion of cultural topics in the course curriculum.

Quoting government figures, the release said, though Punjab’s child population in the age group of 6-10 years currently stood at 24.47 lacs, enrolment in government schools is a mere 9.6 lacs, with the number declining year on year. The state government attributes this decline to the fact that parents tend to send their wards at an early age i.e less than six years to schools whereas as per RTE Act and as per Government Policy, children below the age of 6 years are not admitted in government schools.

Estimating the child population in the age group of 4-6 years to be 5.33 lacs, the state government is of the view that by not admitting the children in the age group of 4-6 years, the learning levels of the students in government lag behind students of their age studying in private schools, which start admitting students much earlier.

In a welcome move, the Cabinet approved an amendment to the Punjab School Education Board Act, 1969, to abolish the post of Senior Vice Chairman. It also gave its nod to amend Section 6 (a) of the Act, thus stipulating that no person shall be appointed as Chairman or Vice Chairman unless he/she has served with the Central Government or State Government or both on a gazetted post for a period of not less than 15 years.
           
Further, the amended Section 15 (1) envisages that the Secretary of the Board shall be appointed by the state government and will be an officer from Indian Administrative Service (IAS)/Punjab Civil Services of Additional Secretary rank. The amendment in Section 17 1 (i) prescribes the syllabi and courses of studies in consultation with SCERT.

Global Tenders To Be Invited For World-Class Tech Varsity

The Punjab Cabinet also gave its go-ahead for inviting global tenders to establish a world-class Technology University at SAS Nagar (Mohali). The proposed university will focus on skill development in IT/IT enabled services, biotechnology and related biosciences, material sciences and nanotechnology.

Following the cabinet approval, proposals will now be invited from the open market from the open market by providing wide publicity. The applicants can either pay as per IT Policy-2013 or as per the proposal received from the Reimagining Higher Education Foundation. Based on the proposals received from the Foundation, an area of 50 acres earmarked for IT/ITES, etc can be allocated for setting up the university.
           
Criteria Amended For Plots In IT City

In another decision, the state cabinet also relaxed the eligibility criteria for allocation of plots in IT City, SAS Nagar for sizes varying between 3 and 25 acres to allow non-CMM-SEI Level 5 certification companies to set up business. Further, companies wishing to exit IT City have been allowed to surrender plots by deducting 10% of paid up amount.