Chandigarh: The decision of the Punjab government to re-introduce exams for class V and VIII would go a long way in improving the much needed standards of education as the state is confronted with the problem of not only that of staggering army of educated unemployed but also that of their employability. Over the years, the standards of education have been going down and this trend that started during militancy witnessed yet another hit when the state government turned totally indifferent to the government schools on the logic that English (public) schools had been opened even in villages and people preferred these private institutions.
With exams being only at the Class X stage, the educational standards, particularly in the government schools, have been falling drastically with high failure rates and the students ignorant of even the basics. The decision of the state government to introduce English from Class I had failed to rectify the institutional deficiencies. The problem with Punjab is that even the private engineering colleges are turning out graduates who can’t get a job of even Rs 10,000 per month. The basic issue is of their employability.
It is necessary to go into the background that has resulted in this crisis that amount to playing with the future of Generation Next. Rather than continuing with the efforts to put the system back on rails, the Congress government headed by Capt Amarinder Singh that came into power in 2002 opted for privatisation. One can recall the logic that used to aggressively advanced by then finance minister Surinder Singla that the government schools were not the preferred destination any more of even the weaker sections in the rural areas and hence were not needed. With that approach, the education system hit rock bottom. It was forgotten that the school education in Punjab was among the best in the country at one time. No effort was made to fill vacancies both in education and health during that period. The present crisis is rooted in that period.
Of late, strenuous efforts are being made to check this degradation for which the schools must be provide adequate number of qualified teachers with proper infrastructure. The system should be so designed that the teachers do not have to run after transfers every year. One fails to understand as to why the main job of the education minister should be that of dealing with postings and transfers of school teachers. It would be better to appoint a teacher for a particular district or block by advertising posts for that particular area. make the teacher accountable after providing requisite facilities. This would go a long way in boosting the efforts under way to bring about qualitative improvement in the standards of education.
The youth have to be employable and not just literate. Punjab has not only to join the bigger race in the highly competitive world but also cover the time lag. Already, the share of Punjabi youth in the high paid job market is much less. It is the entire system that needs overhauling and the decision to go in for exams for Class V and VII should be viewed from this aspect.