It may have failed to utilise the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) funds to improve standard of its government schools through provision of additional drinking water, trained teachers, toilets and classrooms, but the Parkash Singh Badal government wants to use the funds liberally for beaming the Teachers’ Day speech of Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday.
School heads have been asked to arrange TVs, projectors, speakers, internet, cable connections and generators. The detailed circulars of the education department have also asked the schools linked to Edusat to fix non-functional internet connections and air the PM’s address by logging on to either YouTube link of the Union human resource development (HRD) ministry or DD News or the direct webcast site of the PM managed by the National Informatics Centre. Whether the internet speed in villages will be able to help students watch the PM’s address live remains a question unanswered.
For the majority of other schools not linked to Edusat, the headmasters have been asked to arrange for television sets or projectors. Those who fail to source even these can rely on radio sets. With most government schools having no funds at their disposal to even run the mid-day meal scheme, the department has assured them funds from the SSA, the flagship central scheme for ensuring universal education, improving infrastructure and quality of teaching in schools.
Not to mention that Punjab has been failing in meeting the annual plan targets of the SSA for constructing toilets, boundary walls and additional classrooms in schools despite more funds flowing to states in the last few years.
Punjab education minister Daljit Singh Cheema, however, rules out any logistical blues. “All villages in Punjab have TVs and cable connections. Our headmasters are also resourceful. We have allowed them to rent television sets, if needed. We will release funds out of the SSA,” he told HT.
While the department’s circular has asked school heads and teachers to ensure children are in attendance, the minister said it has not been made mandatory.
“Children can hear the speech from their homes. We have only instructed schools to encourage participation. The opposition parties are raising the bogey of schools being forced as they are unnerved that first time a prime minister has chosen to speak to teachers and students on this important day,” Cheema added.
‘OVERWORKED’ ON THEIR DAY
While the Teachers’ Day will start like any normal day at 8am, the school heads and teachers have been asked to hold their own functions by 11am and ensure attendance of students for the PM’s address slated between 3pm and 4.45 pm. Other than arranging for TVs and the paraphernalia required, the school heads have also been instructed to ensure attendance of village representatives and members of committees attached to the schools.