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10 things to know about ‘Schools of Eminence’ project launched in Punjab today

Here are a few things you should know about the first major education project launched by the AAP government in Punjab and how these schools will be different from other government schools.

The ‘Schools of Eminence’ proposed by the AAP government will not be residential schools. (Proposed design)
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10 things to know about ‘Schools of Eminence’ project launched in Punjab today
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The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government in Punjab Saturday launched its first major education project – ‘Schools of Eminence’.

Inspired by Delhi’s Schools of Specialized Excellence, in the first phase, 117 existing government schools will be upgraded as ‘Schools of Eminence’ in the coming years with a special focus on students from classes 9 to 12.

The scheme proposes “well-lit spacious rooms, electrical appliances, adequate furniture, functional toilets, vending machines for sanitary pads and incinerators machines, swimming pool, Wi-Fi, auditorium”, among other facilities. (Proposed design)

This, however, is not the first such project in Punjab. Earlier, 10 government residential schools, exclusively for meritorious students, were opened by the Shiromani Akali Dal-BJP government, providing free-of-cost education and coaching for competitive exams to students of classes 11 and 12.

However, the ‘Schools of Eminence’ proposed by the AAP government will not be residential schools.

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Here are 10 things you should know about the first major education project launched by the AAP government in Punjab:

The objective

As per the scheme document accessed by The Indian Express, ‘Schools of Eminence’ aims to “re-imagine education in government schools for holistic development of children and prepare them to be responsible citizens”. The schools aim to impart education of the highest quality so that it becomes the most attractive option for parents. ‘Schools of Eminence’ will be technology-based learning institutions, with state-of-the-art facilities.

The government plans to begin admissions in the upcoming session (2023-24) (Proposed design).

Academics: Not just science, but equal focus on arts, skills

The document underlines that these schools will cater to Class 9 to 12 students and will offer four main streams — non-medical, medical, commerce and humanities for 11 and 12. However, the focus will not just be on science. Students will also be exposed to art, dance, music, theatre, foreign languages, life skills etc. Professional coaches will be provided for sports training, says the scheme document.

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The scheme says that existing schools, which will be converted into ‘Schools of Eminence’, would be supported through additional resources and a pupil-teacher ratio of 35:1 will be maintained. Students will be given career counselling and free coaching for competitive exams and Armed Forces entrances. Clubs will be formed to exhibit their leadership skills and improve life skills such as robotics, cooking, driving etc. There will be specialised trainers for activities such as yoga, fine arts, dance, music, theatre etc.

Enhanced learning, foreign languages

The scheme document further says that students will be provided enhanced learning programmes in artificial intelligence, animation and web designing and will be trained in foreign languages including French, Chinese, German, Spanish and Japanese.

There will be arts, crafts and music rooms, a school band and high-speed internet connection with Wi-Fi on the campus. The scheme also proposes a child tracking system with photos of each student on the ePunjab portal.

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Focus on sports: Coaching, swimming pools in school premises

State-of-the-art sports facilities will be provided with coaches for at least three games (hockey, football, kabaddi, volleyball) and sports courts will be developed in each school.

The scheme lays special focus on Children with Special Needs (CWSN) and proposes a “barrier-free environment for CWSN” with friendly toilets and furniture, and signages in Braille for the visually impaired.

Fitness parks, indoor gymnasiums, open-air theatres and swimming pools will be developed on campus as per space availability, and if there is no space available, access to the nearest swimming pool will be provided in coordination with the sports department.

Legal studies, English courses for employability

The scheme proposes to incorporate legal studies as a part of the curriculum in these schools. To make students ready for international exposure and employability, there will be courses for fluency in English.

Infrastructure: Color-coded classrooms, STEM labs

The scheme proposes “well-lit spacious rooms, electrical appliances, adequate furniture, functional toilets, vending machines for sanitary pads and incinerators machines, swimming pool, Wi-Fi, auditorium”, among other facilities.

All classrooms would be ‘smart’ with blinds for windows, interactive panels with speakers in at least two classrooms, almirahs with lockers for students, rechargeable laser pointers, cubicles etc.

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There will be a reception area with digital records of each child, uniform colour-coded classrooms, star student boards, bio-metric attendance, public address system in the whole campus, canteen, tuck shop, among other proposed facilities.

Schools will also have robotic labs, virtual reality labs, languages/listening labs, ATAL tinkering and STEM labs.

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Special focus on children with special needs

The scheme lays special focus on Children with Special Needs (CWSN) and proposes a “barrier-free environment for CWSN” with friendly toilets and furniture, and signages in Braille for the visually impaired.

Green schools, safety

The schools will be eco-friendly, complete with solar panels, LEDs, nutrition garden, waste management and plastic reuse and water conservation systems in place. For safety, the scheme proposes fire extinguishers and alarms in every school, CCTV cameras and display boards with emergency numbers.

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Admissions

The government plans to begin admissions in the upcoming session (2023-24). An online form for initiating the admission process for students in classes 9 and 11 will be enabled on a portal. Admission for classes 9 and 11 will be done in the first phase. First preference will be given to feeder schools and the rest of the seats will be filled on the basis of merit in the entrance test.

Funding and administration

Three committees — at the state, district and school level — will be constituted to supervise the progress of the project. The state-level committee will be constituted under the chairmanship of the principal secretary with 11 members, including the director-general of school education (DGSE), State Council of Educational Research and Training director, DPI and other senior officials. The district-level committee will be under the district education officers (DEOs) and the school-level committee will be under the principals, says the scheme document.

The scheme adds that the entire work of development and maintenance of ‘Schools of Eminence’ will be done from state government funds with a special budget set aside for the project. Each school would be geo-tagged to monitor the implementation closely.

First published on: 21-01-2023 at 14:15 IST
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