The Punjab education department plans to start a pre-primary class for tiny tots in government schools of the state from the upcoming academic session.
With private nursery and playway schools admitting students at the age of two-and-a-half years, the state education department has decided to enrol four-year-old children in the pre-primary class. Government schools admit students to Class 1 at the age of five.
Director, public instruction (DPI, secondary), Balbir Singh Dhol said the aim was to draw students to government schools at the pre-primary level.
"Families in slum areas make their children sit at home till the age of five years, whereas in rural and urban areas, parents get them admitted to private schools in pre-primary classes. Later, they don't bother to shift their kids to government schools," he added.
The department had asked schools across the state to start the pre-primary class from the 2015-16 academic session.
"As a pilot project, schools with requisite infrastructure as per play school requirements and adequate number of teachers for primary classes have been asked to start the new class," Dhol added.
The primary schools which have anganwadi centres nearby have also been asked by the education department to enrol students at the pre-primary stage.
Efforts in this regard would get weightage while appraising the performance of schools and teachers.
"A special award will be given to headmasters and headmistresses of primary schools who will take the initiative to enrol students in the pre-primary class, apart from adding special reward points to the annual report," the DPI said.
The DPI also asked various district education officers (DEOs) to take effective steps to improve enrolment in government schools.
The DEOs have been asked to create awareness in this regard among people in rural areas through seminars.
Anita Devi, a domestic help, said the move looked promising as she would be able to send her four-year-old daughter to school while working.
"My son is studying in Class 2 in a government school. I take my daughter with me during my working hours as my husband wants her to learn work until she gets admission in a government school. Now I can get her admitted at the pre-primary level," she added.