The Project Director, Society for Promotion of Quality Education for Poor and Meritorious Students of Punjab of Meritorious schools, Major General (retd.) Kas Bhullar, tells Anju Agnihotri Chaba that meritorious schools in a short period of two years have made a difference to the state of education. Excerpts from the interview:
Have meritorious schools made any difference to the state of education in Punjab?
The meritorious schools draw top students who have passed their matriculation examination from government schools in Punjab, most of who come from the poor and predominantly rural background. The results — both in terms of bagging merit positions in 10+2 board exams as well as in clearing entrance for gaining admission into professional colleges — have been encouraging. These students are our messengers in spreading the message that one can usher change in one’s life and move up in the social ladder by working hard. Here poorest of poor get best opportunities and they, who could not dream about sitting in any competitive exam, are going to IITs and NITs and other professional colleges. This is a big change in our education system in just two years of these schools.
Is it a good practice to separate the best from the rest? Are the best really the best?
Even in public, convent schools and in coaching centres, students are segregated in sections based on their scores, so that better performers, who have the potential and capability to perform well, get focused and targeted education so as to arm them with all that it needs to perform well. And since the meritorious schools admit top students from government schools who have proven their mettle in matriculation board exams, they are certainly the best. In Class 12th exam, more than 30 per cent students from these six schools were on the merit list of a couple of thousands government schools across the state. In meritorious schools, with the best and the state-of-art education, we hone their skills and capabilities to help them realise their dreams and face the competitive world.
What are the challenges ahead?
The aim is to get a majority of these students admitted in best professional colleges and courses after 10+2. While the teachers of these schools are working hard to get better results from their wards, the key challenge is to hone their English skills given that they are from disadvantaged and primarily rural background and most of the students have had education up to matriculation in ‘Punjabi Medium’, With passing time this hurdle is getting over and we are honing their communication skills.