The Punjab government has decided not to shut down associate schools in the state. According to education minister Daljit Singh Cheema, these schools have been directed to send details about their infrastructure, number of teachers, students, and the area in which they are located.
“We are finalising a policy under which these schools will be covered,” said Cheema, who was here on Thursday for the prize distribution function of a school on the Jalandhar bypass.
An associate school is a private institution associated with the Punjab School Education Board. Last year, 263 such schools were closed down due to failure to fulfil area norms prescribed by the board, besides inadequate infrastructure. However, the remaining 3,700 associate schools will not meet the same fate.
Talking to Hindustan Times, Cheema said, “More than 1.5 lakh students are studying in these associate schools in Punjab. So, we will not shut down these schools. We will encourage them to fulfil the area norms.”
On the Right To Education (RTE) Act not being properly implemented in private schools of Punjab as they are not reserving 25% seats for students from economically weaker sections (EWS) at the entry level, he said the government was yet to decide the reimbursement amount to be given to the private schools.
“We will soon conduct a meeting with these schools. We will soon implement 25% reservation for EWS in private schools,” Cheema said.
The RTE Act was initiated in Punjab in 2011. However, for the past three years, the government has failed to decide the reimbursement to be given to private schools for reservation of 25% seats at the entry level. The act says that the right of children to free and compulsory education has a provision regarding admission of EWS students for at least 25% seats of the strength of Class 1 or at the entry level in respective schools.
Cheema added, “We are planning to merge government primary schools which fall within 1-km stretch of each other so as to ensure proper utilisation of teachers and improve the quality of education. Recently, zila parishad government primary schools were brought under the aegis of the education department.”