Punjab has taken big strides in the field of education as hitherto known agrararian state has witnessed a considerable rise in its literacy rate in last few years. From a meagre 57 % in 1998, the literacy rate has risen to 76.8% in 2012 according to the census report of 2012-13. This has been possible due to a number of initiatives and programmes launched by the Punjab government in the last few years, keeping in mind every section of the society thus making overall impact. Even after rise in the rate, the SAD-BJP government led by Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal has not given up and is continuing with its multi-pronged strategy to ensure education for girls and for children below poverty line to achieve 100% literacy in Punjab.
Multi-pronged action plan and schemes
Taking a cue from the National Policy on Education (1986), the Punjab government has prepared an action plan to raise the number of schools for girls and BPL (below poverty line) students. The government has also augmented scholarship schemes for SC/ST and meritorious students to facilitate their studies.
Dr. Hargobind Khurana Scholarship scheme is one such initiative which aims at helping meritorious students with a scholarship of Rs. 2500 per month. Introduced in August 2013, the scheme covers students of class 10th, scoring more than 80% marks. Till 2013-14, the Punjab Government incurred an expenditure of Rs. 499.12 lakh giving benefits to total of 3293 eligible students under the scheme. Besides the government has also given a boost to the Union government’s efforts to promot girl education under “Beti Padhao, Beti Bachao’ initiative.
Schemes for SC/ST students
Promoting the spirit of “Sabka Saath Sabkaa Vikas” which aims at empowerment and development of every section of the society, the state government has launched a scheme under which Post Metric Scholarship is being given to SC and OBC students, along with a special grant for girl child. The scheme has provided benefit to more than 27,500 SC students and 8500 OBC students with the scholarship in 2012-13. In 2013-14 a sum of Rs. 88,77,06,278 and Rs. 26,59,14,356 has been spent giving benefits to students under this scheme.
Residential School project
The project was launched in 2014-15 in the districts of Bathinda, Mohali, Ludhiana, Amritsar, Jalandhar and Patiala, where residential schools are being constructed. Along with the project, the government also opened 15 primary schools and 23 secondary schools for which the Project Approval Board (PAB) sanctioned Rs. 776.1 crore in 2013-14.
Stress on quality
Apart from providing good infrastructure, emphasise is being laid on quality of teachers during recruitment, their trainings and for providing quality text books for schools. A sum of Rs. 7.96 lakh was spent for providing free books to the poor students. Besides the government has spent Rs. 50.31 crore for construction of toilets and providing clean water in the schools.
Special focus on rural and border areas
For the rural and border areas the government now envisages to set up well equipped practical training centers which have latest instruments and technology. There is also a plan to have well trained and educated staff for primary and secondary educational institutes all over the state.
In fact it’s the comprehensive and multi pronged strategy of Parkash Singh Badal government which has made Punjab witness a significant rise in the literacy rate.