Teachers and educationists have given a thumbs down to the budget presented by Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal, saying that instead of opening new institutions, the government should have announced measures to strengthen the existing system. They said that instead announcing five new degree colleges, Manpreet Badal should have focused on acute shortage of teaching staff in existing 48 government colleges and other state-run institutions.
Teachers, who spoke with The Indian Express, also invoked the dismal showing of students in English in the recent PSEB Class 10 and 12 results and said that while there were 1.38 lakh students in government-run schools in the state between Class 6-10, these schools had only 850 qualified English teachers.
During his speech Manpreet said that a ‘new educational policy’ would be brought out soon aimed at building a highly skilled society based upon providing equal opportunity in foundational education. Renowned educationist and retired Circle Education Officer (CEO), BS Bhatia, said that every year in the budget “we are promised quality education” in government schools and this year too the government has done the same. “(But) If we really want to see improvement in education, what is important is to improve the quality of instruction…” He lamented that in the latest PSEB results over 1,48,000 students, including 70,000 students in Class 10, had failed in General English. “With less than a thousand English school teachers, how do we foresee improvement? And why is budget silent on this?” he questioned. About the budget being silent on recruitment of teachers, Vice President of BEd Teachers Front, Punjab, Chander Shekhar, said: “We do not need chairs and desks, but qualified teachers to teach the students…recent Class 10 and 12 results should have served as an eye opener for government.”
Noted educationist and retired principal of Lyallpur Khalsa College, Jalandhar, Dr Satish Kapoor, said budget that the proposals were okay, but “effective education” at school-level was the need of the hour. He added that instead opening five new degree Colleges, the acute shortage of teaching staff in existing 48 government colleges must be addressed. While he welcomed promotion of Punjabi language, he added that the same wasn’t possible without introducing modern techniques in it. Manpreet Badal’s budget, meanwhile, carried several new proposals including roping in NRIs under new ‘Padho Punjab and Padhao Punjab’ , introducing computer education in the primary schools of the state and even allocation Rs 10 crore for teaching boards (blackboards).