Amid talks of its likely cascading effect in Punjab in 2022 elections, the verdict of Delhi polls where Aam Aadmi Party returned to power with a resounding majority echoed in Punjab Vidhan Sabha Thursday. It all began with Congress MLA Kuljit Singh Nagra seeking to discredit the AAP saying scenario in business-dominated Delhi and agrarian Punjab was a picture in contrast and AAP MLA Baljinder Kaur mooting an idea that a committee of legislators be constituted to study the government school system in the National Capital to improve the education standards in state.
During a discussion on a resolution on preparing a master plan to build sufficient and safe buildings for government primary and elementary schools in Punjab, Nagra hit out at Arvind Kejriwal led AAP government in Delhi. Nagra said a lot was being said that many government schools in Punjab were closed and that there was huge drop out rate in the state, but “an analysis of drop out rate of government schools in Delhi for the last five years may reveal of number of students have increased or decreased.”
Stating that criticism of the government should not be for the sake of criticism, Nagra said, “Political leaders should always praise the state government for doing good things for the state rather than criticising it all the time. We are giving power subsidy of Rs 9,500 crore where as it was just Rs 2,220 crore in Delhi”.
“They (AAP MLAs) are giving example of Delhi here. Our state is an agricultural state while Delhi is a business state. There is a difference between Delhi and Punjab,” he said, adding that there was no comparison between the two. He said when Sheila Dikshit relinquished CM’s chair, Delhi was (revenue) surplus, but Congress government in Punjab inherited a debt of Rs 2.3 lakh crore.
Taking part in the debate, AAP’s Baljinder Kaur said that Punjab was once a leader in health, education and prosperity. “If someone has replaced us, it is Delhi,” said Kaur, mooting an idea that a committee of Punjab MLAs should study Delhi government school model and should have an interaction with Delhi’s education minister to replicate the same practices in Punjab.
Kaur said Punjab had 10 per cent of the budget earmarked for education sector as compared to 13 per cent by UP and Haryana each and 26 per cent by Delhi. The budget allocation, she said, could well explain why there are issues like state not being able to fill the vacancies, replace unsafe buildings with safer ones and address the problem of falling standards of quality education. She said while pass percentage of 10+2 in Punjab government schools was 86 per cent, it was 96 per cent for Delhi. Kaur said wards of judges, doctors and an auto rickshaw puller studied in same government schools in Delhi, sharing the benches.
Earlier AAP MLA Budh Ram, who served as principal at Government Senior Secondary School in Budhlada, said the number of students in Punjab government schools has decreased to 23.29 lakh in 2018-19 as compared to 24.52 lakh in 2009-10.
Congress MLA Harpartap Singh Ajnala said that border areas were crying for better education facilities and in the absence of that uneducated youth were being pushed towards drugs. He said the government should introduce border allowance for teachers to encourage them to teach in border area schools.
Akali MLA Harinderpal Singh Chandumajra said that declaring a building unsafe was a lengthy process as it involved Public Works Department also. He suggested that a wing should be constituted within the eudcation department to assess whether a building was safe or unsafe. He also suggested that the strength of section should be reduced from 40 to around 30 so that a teacher can better impart education to the students.
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