The future of more than 25 lakh students in 5,500 associate schools of the Punjab school education board is in jeopardy.
If by April 13, the schools don't fulfill the conditions for recognition, the education department will shut these down, which will render more than 25,000 teachers jobless. The board is in a dilemma over letting the schools continue.
In 2011, when the board gave the associate status to the schools, it also agreed for their regular inspection to recognise the deserving institutions. "The government's intent is to close the schools without inspection, even when former education minister Sewa Singh Sekhwan had given us recognition in 2011," said Charanjit Sharma, principal of BRM School at Langeana near Moga, who is also president of the associate school organisation of Punjab (ASOP).
"No school was ever inspected, in spite of board's requests to the education department," said Sharma. "Now the education department is ready to close our schools after April 13."
Higher officials in the board confirmed that the organisation would seek advice from the state government over this issue. "We are concerned about the future of nearly 25 lakh students of these schools," said an official.
If associate schools could run effectively in Haryana and Gujarat, there shouldn't be any reason to close these down in Punjab, said Sewa Singh, principal of Sunshine School at Dhurkot near Moga. The schools are open in villages and slums and their fee is very small and static for the past many decades. The ASOP has assured the education department and the state government that its member schools will provide children with the best of education. "We hope the department considers our request," said Sewa Singh.
The ASOP sent a team to chief minister Parkash Singh Badal and Bharatiya Janata Party state president Kamal Sharma and claimed to have won assurance of a solution from them.