In a bid to keep pace with the changing times, the Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Thursday emphasized the need to offer an opportunity to the students desirous of learning foreign languages as optional subjects in the government schools.
In his address, the Chief Minister asked the School Education department to work out modalities to enable the students to learn the foreign languages like Chinese, Arabic and French as these languages could be instrumental in improving their chances of employability across the globe. He, however, said that though Punjabi is our mother tongue and English is already being taught in schools and now the additional knowledge of foreign languages would help our students to excel in their career. Sharing his experience about our people’s resilience and spirit to do something new, Captain Amarinder Singh said long back while travelling in Kapurthala district he noticed a placard in a rural area which pointed towards a location where Italian language was taught. He said this incident reveals that our people especially the youth are keen to learn foreign languages to settle abroad and such initiative of the School Education department would help the students to cherish their aspirations.
Underlining the need to motivate students to take up sports as a character building exercise, the Chief Minister also directed the School Education Minister to explore the possibility of developing playgrounds in the schools as sports not only develops one’s overall personality but also imbibe the leadership qualities of self discipline and sportsman spirit amongst them to become ideal citizens of the society. Referring to a famous quote, “The battle of Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Eton”, Captain Amarinder Singh said it is popularly ascribed to the Generals who spearheaded the command of this famous battle, were trained in the playgrounds of Eton in U.K. during their early school days.
While congratulating the teachers and the entire staff of School Education department for making Punjab No.1 State across the country in Performance Grading Index (PGI) 2019-20 released by the Government of India, the Chief Minister said it was really a matter of sheer pride that Punjab has achieved this rare feat, which is the outcome of their collective efforts coupled with hard work, dedication and sincerity. He also urged the School Education department especially its Secretary to maintain this position for times to come. He lauded few path-breaking initiatives like online teacher transfer policy, smart schools policy, pre-primary education, digital education and special cadre of teachers working in border areas, which has led to remarkable improvement in the quality of education across the state. He said it was reflective from the fact that nearly 5.6 lakh students have shifted from private to government schools with 29% increase in the enrollment since last four years thus their parents reposing faith in government schools again.
While speaking on the occasion, School Education Minister Vijay Inder Singla assured the Chief Minister that the department would closely work with the digital platforms offering the facility of online courses in foreign languages to enable our students to learn foreign languages of their choice. Regarding the facility of playgrounds in the schools, Singla said a budgetary provision for 250 playgrounds has already been made. He said Punjab is not only amongst the best five states/UTs but has also emerged as the topper by jumping to Grade I++ in 2019-20 from Grade II in 2018-19. He said that while Chandigarh (UT), Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andaman & Nicobar islands are other four states/UTs among the top five, National Capital Region Delhi has achieved the sixth place in the ranking contrary to its much hyped campaign in the print media to project it as the best state in the field of School Education. He also apprised the Chief Minister that the school education department has utilized 100% funds of Union Government in a transparent manner for up-gradation of infrastructure in the government schools.
PPCC President Sunil Jakhar highly appreciated the visionary leadership of Captain Amarinder Singh for bringing a sea change in raising the standard of School Education in the state besides bringing significant reforms like online teacher transfer policy under which nearly 21,600 teachers have been transferred in a fair and transparent manner. He said earlier the political functionaries were unhappy with this policy but now all of them are satisfied as the teachers were being transferred to the stations of their choice strictly according to the parameters laid down without any favoritism or prejudice. Likewise, he also lauded the stewardship of Secretary School Education in ensuring appointment of teachers besides direct recruitment of principals and headmasters in a fair and transparent manner purely on the merit. He also underscored the need for immediate School upgradation policy in view of increased population besides introduction of vocational courses with a thrust on technical education at 10+2 level in the government schools to fulfill the underlying objective of 10+2 system of education in the right earnest.
Secretary School Education Krishan Kumar in his address said it is a matter of great honour that Punjab has improved its position of overall performance in School Education from 22nd rank to 13th and now finally to No.1 during the past three years. He said the Government of India has introduced Performance Grading Index (PGI) ranking in 2017 and our state got the first position at the national level this year by securing 929 marks out of 1000 in the 70 parameters laid by the Government of India.
Meanwhile, the Chief Secretary Vini Mahajan appreciated the coordinated efforts of School Education department and the implementation of programmes and policies by the teachers at ground level in ensuring quality education to the students. She assured the Chief Minister of similar results in future also to keep State’s top ranking intact with his able guidance and visionary approach.On the occasion, several teachers including Pooja Sharma (Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar), Jaspreet Singh (Sangrur), Manpreet Kaur (Amritsar), Sharanjit Singh (Jalandhar), Rajni Sodhi (Gurdaspur), Karamjit Kaur (Ludhiana) and Farzana (Faridkot) interacted with the Chief Minister to share their experiences for bringing improvement in school education and assured him of leaving no stone unturned to live up to the expectations of the department.