Whither school education in Punjab?

The state of school education in Punjab is deplorable. Whereas all over the world the trend is towards a better teacher-pupil ratio, the education ministry has recently issued orders to increase the number of students per teacher from 35 to 54 in primary schools, 40 to 55 in secondary schools and to 60 in senior secondary schools.

Dropout rates are as high as 70 per cent at some levels. In matters of infrastructure and staff appointments the schools are extremely deficient. The number of vacant posts of teachers of various kinds has crossed 30,000.

The non-schools duties of teachers are on the increase and at present they involve not less than 70 of teachers for 60-65 days in a year. According to reports, around 34 per cent of teachers are absent daily, and 49.5 per cent of those who do go to school do not actually take classes.

The education ministry is reportedly thinking of withdrawing from the field of school education and handing it over to the private sector. This step will deny the poor sections of society even elementary education, which is their constitutional right.

Dr T R SHARMA, Patiala

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Stop underage driving

These are the days of new, sleek, and fast machines on our roads. Teenagers are the ones who are most fascinated and they tend to misuse these vehicles. These days getting a motorbike, scooter or car is more for showing off than transportation. The wealthy zip and zoom in flashy cars.

Unfortunately, many drive before attaining the legally permissible age for driving. They are posing a danger to themselves as well to other people. Parents are equally at fault for providing vehicles to them. There is a certain age for everything. The message should be that we should wait for the right time, and in the meantime inculcate proper road sense. Parents, schools, social organisations and the police must join hands in stopping underage and rash driving.

UDIT CHEEMA, Ambala cantt

Insurance for elderly

With life expectancy of Indians as a whole having improved in a big way in the recent past, the insurance companies in the country should extend their medical cover to those over 65 years of age as well, with a modest increase in premiums for those over 50 years of age.

The yardstick for any welfare state is how well the state is looking after and comforting the lonely elderly.

CAPT. O MATHAI (retd), Trivandrum

Indo-Pak friendship

This has reference to the editorial “Amritsar-Lahore Bus – Road is still not smooth enough” (Jan 21). Indian and Pakistani governments are trying to improve their relationship by promoting travel, trade and sports. But still people of both countries face a number of problems in meeting their relatives.

Authorities must take step to avoid inconvenience to travellers by amending visa rules and regulations. It would definitely help to remove the distance of hearts on both sides of the border.

G. JINDAL, Sirsa

Merging of schools

This refers to the news “Elementary schools to be merged with secondary schools” (Jan 20). Punjab has decided to merge all primary schools located within a radius of half a kilometre with middle, high and senior secondary schools. Himachal Pradesh should also follow the same structure. Privately managed schools have made tremendous progress in the enrolment of students as well as in imparting quality education, because the entire institution i.e. 1st to 10th or 1st to 12th, function under the command and control of one head. Teachers must shun politics and come forward to cooperate with the government in implementing the new education policy for raising the standard of rural education.


Small screen woes

The small screen is a very popular medium of entertainment enjoyed by a large viewership of all age groups. But commercialisation and cutthroat competition have taken their toll on the quality of programmes. Superstition and black magic are shown as an integral part of the script. This is clearly ignoring the constitutional duty of promoting scientific thinking. Showing of vulgarity and crime scenes has crossed all limits. Even if they can’t showcase our national values these channels have no right to degrade our rich culture.


Will history repeat itself?

In the Hyderabad Plenary of the Congress Party both Mrs Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul Gandhi ruled the show. If things continue this way, history will repeat itself and we shall have to remain under family rule, party dictatorship and individual autocracy. The party should introspect.


Senior citizens’ plea

Senior citizens look up to the budget every year with great expectations but are generally disappointed. I hope the Finance Minister will pay heed to their pleas this time. The

I.T. exemption limit for them should be raised from the existing Rs 1.85 lakhs to 2.50 lakhs. One per cent extra interest should be given to them on the post office small savings schemes as is the case in banks. The upper investment ceiling in the post office Monthly Income scheme should be raised..

Wg Cdr C L SEHGAL (retd), Jalandhar


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