Updated: June 28, 2022 10:56:42 am
In his maiden budget, Punjab Finance Minister Harpal Singh Cheema proposed several new schemes in the education sector that have been picked from Delhi’s ‘Model of Education’ such as ‘Schools of Eminence’ and the ‘Young Entrepreneurs programme’. A separate budget has also been proposed to train government teachers, another area of focus of the Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP government in Delhi.
For the fiscal year 2022-23, the budget outlay of Rs 13,991 crore – nine per cent of the state’s expenditure budget of Rs 1,55,860 crore – has been proposed for schools. In addition, Rs 1,168 crore has been set aside for higher education and Rs 641 crore for technical education. Last year, the Congress government had earmarked Rs 11,861 crore for schools out of the Rs 1,68,015 crore budget.
“An increased outlay of 16.27 per cent has been provided in school and higher education. Further, the technical education budget has also been increased by 47 per cent,” said Cheema.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Punjab Education Minister Gurmeet Singh Meet Hayer said that the education sector budget was an amalgamation of what has been learnt from Delhi and from the feedback gathered by visiting government schools.
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“We already have a Knowledge Sharing Agreement signed with the Delhi government, so several schemes proposed in the budget today have been inspired by what they have already implemented successfully. We visited government schools on the ground and got feedback on several issues,” Hayer said. Among the new initiatives, the AAP government has proposed to hire ‘Estate Managers’ for a cluster of government schools so ‘that principals remain focused on academics’. Cheema said that Estate Managers would be hired to free principals and teachers from non-teaching tasks. Estate Managers would take care of maintenance and repair works in government schools. A budget of Rs 123 crore has been allocated for financial support for the upkeep of government schools.
A budget of Rs 200 crore has been set aside to upgrade 100 government schools as ‘Schools of Eminence’. Cheema said, “These schools would be composite schools from pre-primary to 12th and would be equipped with superlative infrastructure like digital classrooms, fully equipped labs, vocational training facilities and trained faculty.”
To train the teaching staff, a budget of Rs 30 crore has been allocated to hire reputed institutions/agencies from India and abroad. It has also been proposed to take the services of specialised agencies such as CRRID/ IDC/ Panjab University/ NCERT/ NIEPA to analyse the outcome of the schemes.
Picking another leaf from Delhi’s book, the Punjab government has proposed to start the ‘Punjab Young Entrepreneur Programme’ in government schools under which class 11 students will be given seed money of Rs 2000 per child to encourage start-ups. A budget of Rs 50 crore has been allocated for it. Another Rs 40 crore has been allocated for establishing modern digital classrooms in 500 government schools in phase 1.
Cheema said that at present, out of 19,176 government schools in Punjab, only 3,597 have rooftop solar panels system installed. A budget of Rs 100 crore has been allocated to cover all schools.
A budgetary allocation of Rs 424 crore has been made for constructing boundary walls in schools, Rs 23 crore for school uniforms, Rs 473 crore for the mid-day meal scheme, Rs 1,351 crore for Samagra Shiksha Abhiyaan, Rs 67 crore for the Pre-Matric scholarship scheme for 1 lakh Other Backward Class (OBC) students and Rs 79 crore to provide scholarships to 2.40 lakh Scheduled Caste (SC) students.
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