Punjab is set to become the only state in the country to make NCC training compulsory in government schools and colleges. Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has given his nod to making NCC compulsory for all students of classes 9, 11 in schools and first year and second year graduation courses. As the first step towards implementation of this scheme, a pilot project will be launched in all government schools and colleges of Gurdaspur, a border district, in this academic session. The project will be then extended to other three border districts of the state — Amritsar, Tarn Taran and Firozepur.
If all goes well the pilot project would be extended to all government schools and colleges in the state. There are 365 high schools and 365 senior secondary schools in border districts.
Punjab Finance Minister and the man behind the project, Manpreet Singh Badal, said: “We want to initiate the NCC training in the schools and colleges of four border districts, starting with Gurdaspur district. From inculcating a sense of nationalism and pride in country’s defense forces, the project could go a long way in checking thousands of our youths from going abroad in search of greener pastures. Captain Sahib, being a proud ex-serviceman agreed to initiate the project readily.”
Sound plan, careful handling
By making NCC training compulsory for students, Punjab government plans to give a push to the youth to choose defence services as a career option and not just think of going abroad. Punjab, once known as the state sending maximum youth to defence forces has not even appeared in the list of top five states. Further, to avoid resistance from students, who put in maximum hours to score very well in board exams, the NCC is being made compulsory only in non-board classes 9, 11 in schools and first and second year of graduation courses only. It would not be a compulsory subject for students of matric and senior secondary classes as they prepare for competitive examinations too.
“Being a border state, Punjab must identify with defence and vice versa. We had a series of meetings with higher education and education department. We felt that apart from sports, our children should understand military duties, and also the honour in the uniform. This is also bringing about a change in the character. The step is going to cost us money. Number crunching is going on at the moment. Initially I would go for one district only in Gurdaspur and then extend the project to other border districts including Ferozepur, Tarn Taran and Amritsar,” he added.
Manpreet Badal said that the fiscal liability for starting this project would be between Rs 6 to 7 crore for a single district. “It would entail the cost of logistics including paying salary to the instructors, buying uniform for the students,” he said.
According to the Badal, hiring the instructors would not be an issue in Punjab since the state is a home to largest number of ex-servicemen pegged at 17 to 18 lakh.
Major General R S Mann, Additional Director General (ADG), NCC Directorate of Punjab, said the pilot project would lend a distinction to Punjab of being the only state in the country having made NCC training compulsory. “We are in the process of laying a road map for the entire project. We want to ensure it from this session only. The curriculum for NCC training, being taught in colleges will be extended to schools also.”
Major General Mann also said there would no problem in getting the instructors as a number of retired Havaldars and JCOs, settled in border districts, could be hired.