Highlighting the innovative steps to improve the overall education sector of the state of Punjab, Dr Daljit Singh Cheema, Minister, Department of School Education, Government of Punjab, lists out the efforts, revamp models made by the state for the sector, while in conversation with Prathiba Raju of Elets News Network (ENN)
Why is Primary education more important than higher education?
Primary education is the most important aspect in the whole pyramid of education system. But in India, in government- run schools and most of the private schools, the primary education is not upto the mark. The students of Class V can’t read or study even class two lessons. In government schools, the admission is made at the age of six, as per Right To Education (RTE) Act, while in private sector, the child is admitted in primary schools at the age of three. Now, most of the education ministers from various states want primary classes in government schools at the age of three. Many states opine that as picking up of language skills is at an early stage of a child, it would be an apt age to cover the gap. To improve the primary education, emphasis should be given on teacher training. All the institutes which are providing teacher training courses should be more vigilant and strict guidelines should be issued so that we have better teachers in times to come.
ICT enabled education how important is it, what are the initiatives taken by Punjab?
ICT is given prime importance in Punjab. We have started computer labs in all the secondary and higher secondary government schools. The State also has 3,800 educational institutions included in the EDUSAT programme. We are going to expand it further, as the classes taken via this programme has helped many students in the State.
What are the new innovations brought by Punjab in the primary education system?
We have done an on ground study. First of all, we are striving for quality education in Punjab and to ensure this, we are starting teacher training at all levels: primary, secondary and higher secondary. Other important and innovative step to improve the quality of education in the state is ‘The Meritorious School Project’ for Class 10 pass outs. We will be accommodating students from government schools who have secured 80 per cent and above marks and are from weaker economical background. They will be given accommodation, education, and food absolutely free of cost in six residential schools. The students will be prepared for the entrance examinations of prestigious institutes of engineering, management, law, and medicine. It will be very helpful for the people in the rural areas and those students coming from the EWS.
What is your view on the emphasise given on skill education under a programme called ‘Skill India’ initiative by the Central Government?
Skill development is the need of the hour as there are many skilled people in our country but they don’t undergo a proper training. Our country hardly has three to four per cent who are skilled or trained workforce. In other countries like Japan and Germany, more than 70 per cent are trained workforce. So, this initiative will go a long way. Chief Minister of Punjab, Prakash Singh Badal, is heading the team of chief ministers who have been deputed to frame the policy for the Skill India initiative. As for the state of Punjab, we have started vocational courses in 400 plus schools this year. We will add more. There is a gap between what students are taught in professional, engineering and polytechnic colleges and what the industry needs. To bridge this gap, vocational courses are necessary. The courses should be such that the students get employment soon after they are out of college.
How does the WES platform compliment the education sector?
I must complement the work of Elets for organising such a great summit. The 5th edition of World Education Summit is one of its kind and it has got a plethora of people right from policy makers, industry experts, bureaucrats, eminent educationists come under one platform and deliberate upon the issues faced in the education sector. The conference session had a free and fair discussion. If things are discussed in such an honest way, some fruitful solutions would definitely come out, which would help the education sector