Chandigarh: Enrolment in pre-primary classes for the next academic session is all set to start in government schools across Punjab this month, with the state cabinet giving its nod to the proposal, announced earlier by Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh in a bid to strengthen the school system in the state.
Following the cabinet approval, government schools will start enrolling children over the age of 3 in the pre-primary classes, which will become operational in the forthcoming academic session. Under the existing rules, government schools could admit children only over the age of six.
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.
Speaking at the cabinet meeting held here on Wednesday afternoon, the Chief Minister also suggested improvement in the government school curriculum, with historical events and heroes to be incorporated to help connect the children to their roots. Local Bodies and Tourism Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu suggested inclusion of cultural topics in the course curriculum.
Though Punjab’s child population in the age group of 6-10 years currently stands at 24.47 lacs, enrolment in government schools is a mere 9.6 lacs, with the number declining year on year. The decline is attributed 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. The child population in the age group of 4-6 years is estimated at 5.33 lacs. At the same time, by not admitting the children in the age group of 4-6 years, the learning levels of the students becomes stagnant and such children lag behind as compared to their counterparts studying in the private schools.
In another decision, the Cabinet also approved an amendment to the Punjab School Education Board Act, 1969, to abolish the post of Senior Vice Chairman. It has also given 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, an official spokesperson said after the cabinet meeting held here on Wednesday afternoon.