The recently declared XII result of the Punjab School Education Board (PSEB) has given the state education department a reason to smile for the students having performed better than past on different dimensions. With the pass percentage of regular candidates being 79.55 per cent, some brilliant students also secured 100 per cent marks this time. In an interview on the subject, Education minister Dr Daljit Singh Cheema speaks to DailyPost Assistant Editor Rajay Deep in length. Here are the excerpts:
How do you evaluate the recently declared Class XII PSEB results?
The improvement is quite visible this time. More to my satisfaction, our government schools have this time performed better than the private schools. Further, the results of schools in rural parts of the state are also on the higher side in comparison to the urban ones. Also, the number of students in merit and other slabs in first division has substantially increased, which in totality makes us feel proud.
How could all this happen?
There are a variety of initiatives behind this success. At first, we made the teachers accountable for results of their particular subjects and classes. Though it was not implemented last year, there was surely a sense of fear among the teachers that the results would be linked to their ACRs. Further, recruitment to fill vacancies, the introduction of numerous components related to discipline and punctuality not only among the students but also the teachers have paid us well.
What was the factor that rural schools performed better than urban ones?
Apart from the implementation of these general concepts, we now observe that all seven Meritorious Schools in the state infused a lot of positivity among the rural students. Inspired to avail the best of facilities including food and hostel that too free of cost pushed the rural students in lower classes work harder and that they could make us take pride in claiming that the results of rural schools were slightly better than those of the urban ones.
Punjab is going to start entrance examination for admission in Meritorious Schools. Why this extra filter?
It is a sign of our improved performance. In the first year, we had 3,700 students above 80 per cent marks in the matriculation results. The next time, the number reached 8,400 and this time, in the coming results, we do expect it to cross 10,000 mark so the filter is must to accommodate the best among all in the given circumstances. I am pleased to inform that this time the number of meritorious schools will be increased to 10.
A sense of backwardness among the students of government schools still prevails. What is your take on this?
This feeling is gradually diminishing. Take the example of Patiala district, where out of 23 total students in merit list of 10+2, as many as 13 are from the government schools. There are also some government schools where the students are in queue to get admission. Still, to upgrade the level of confidence among the students of government schools, we have been holding career counselling sessions in 300 schools. Also, in some selected pockets special science teachers are hired to impart training in between the gap of examinations and next admissions.
What is your opinion about a campaign to make it mandatory for govt teachers to get their children admitted to government schools?
These things need not be imposed forcibly. I also differ with those who just do the lip service by issuing statements sitting in the drawing rooms. I am of strong feeling that you do provide the facility people will themselves come looking for the government schools to get their wards admitted. And, I am glad to say that we are on the right track.
There is a strong tiff between parents and the private school authorities regarding the fees. Why did the department not play proactive role to resolve it?
We have been in the process to get regulatory authority for past one year. In the previous cabinet meeting, we were given the permission in principle. The draft has been prepared and sent as Cabinet memorandum. In the next cabinet meeting, most likely the ordinance will be issued. The details will be released only after it gets approved but I assure that the provisions will resolve the issue completely.
Teachers blame their non-academic duties if performed poor. Do you have mechanism to check?
At first, I ensure that the teachers are being given the minimum duties other than teaching. But at the same time, I am not ready to accept the teachers’ excuse for poor performance. I have my logic in saying this as the duties are same for all so one can’t pass on the buck simply claiming the “extra burden” of other assigned tasks as the circumstances are same for all and many are still giving 100 per cent results. Going stricter we have now issued cause notices to some principals and teachers for poor performance and if they fail to give satisfactory reply, will face the music.
The issue of vacancies in schools seems quite serious. What efforts are being made to fill the gap?
The issue is not as serious as it seems in the media reports appearing on the basis of information procured under the RTI Act. Actually, the number of sanctioned posts lying vacant in the department is in thousands but it doesn’t mean that there is no teacher on such posts. There are thousands of ‘Sikhya service providers’, having field experience of nearly a decade, who are performing the duties on such places with due diligence. But being not regular, their number doesn’t appear in the RTI information. Anyway , if one goes by the record, we have recruited hundreds of teachers in the past and the procedure to recruit about 16,000 more teachers is almost complete and at anytime, they will be in.
What is the actual ranking of Punjab’s education system as you and chief minister differ on this?
No, we don’t differ. The thing is that if either of us speaks about the ranking in infrastructure in schools, the other might be talking about the ranking in the results or the performance of staff or execution of the policies. And you must be happy to know that in various segments we are on the top or near to that.
Transfers have always been an issue in your department. Have you been able to tackle it to some extent?
We have been able to sort it out to large extent. Applications are being taken online though we are a little liberal on considering them as it is a manual process yet. To minimise the issue, we have started asking the selected candidates for their choice posting option at the time of recruitment only. And by the meantime, hardly few come up with the request for transfers or postings. Rest, the transfer policy has been formed to keep the teachers comfortable to the maximum level.
For more news updates Follow and Like us on Facebook