Sanjeev Singh Bariana
Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, December 30
School education has been among the top performers for Punjab in facing the challenges of the Covid outbreak this year. Catering to more than 60 lakh students in approximately 25,000 schools, the Punjab School Education Board (PSEB) faced the never-seen-before challenges of enrolment, teacher training, teaching, and teacher-student interaction.
And, for the first time, everything had to be done online. Besides internet on normal computers, the exercises were designed for smartphones.
The first roadblock was getting the teachers ready for computer education. The department introduced ‘Ghar Baithe Sikhiya’ for digital education through TV/ radio channels and YouTube. Teachers were taught to use the Punjab Educare app and training sessions were organised at the Indian School of Business. The second obstacle was unavailability of smartphones, particularly with poor students. A small section did not have even one in their family. So far, about 1.3 lakh students studying in Class XII have been provided smartphones in two phases by Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh. A big number of students in the junior classes have been left out.
The department claimed an increase of 2.1 lakh in student enrolments this year. A study ‘Making Quality Education Accessible to All: Policy Perspective on School Education in Punjab’ by Punjab University Rural Centre, Kauni (Muktsar), indicated that closure of schools could lead to “huge dropouts” from schools. The majority of students who shifted to government schools came from private schools which had closed down.
A section of teachers said the picture was not as rosy as claimed by the department. The Democratic Teachers’ Front said government schools had a shortage of at least 30,000 teachers. It added that going by the ideal teacher-taught ratio of 1:30, Punjab needed at least one lakh more teachers. The department clarified that nearly 35,000 recruitments had been made in the past little over one year and the process was continuing.
Secretary (School Education) Krishan Kumar said, “We are doing our best for the students and teachers under the existing circumstances. Besides recruitment on merit, we made teacher transfer online to end all allegations of favouritism.”
Initiatives in digital education bring results
- Besides internet on computers, the exercises were designed for smartphones
- ‘Ghar Baithe Sikhiya’ launched for digital education through TV/ radio channels and YouTube
- Teachers were taught to use the Punjab Educare app and training sessions were organised at Indian School of Business
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