While appointing retired army officers as principals of all nine meritorious schools, the Punjab government has diluted the criteria it had initially framed to select academics to head these schools, a dream project of Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal.
Almost a week after the Punjab government gave the nod to the appointment of nine retired army officers as principals, it has come to light that the government did this after it failed to find suitable academics for the post.
Officials associated with the project said the state government had decided that individuals having seven years’ experience as principal of a residential school, along with a postgraduate degree in science or commerce and a B Ed degree, would be eligible for the post. But most aspirants didn’t meet the criteria. The government couldn’t find eligible candidates even after relaxing the conditions. Finally, it decided in favour of retired army officers.
“Despite our having given several relaxations, we could not find people qualified for the post. Then, the CM said that ex-servicemen be appointed to the posts. Last year, a person from the education department had qualified and was appointed at the Jalandhar school,” project director, residential schools, Punjab, Col KAS Bhullar (retd), said.
However, top academics, while criticising the decision, asserted that the government should have preferred ineligible-but-competent and academically sound people over the retired army officers.
Sardara Singh Johal, chancellor of Central University of Punjab, Bathinda, said, “Educational institutes need experienced educationists. To be a colonel or major is no criterion for being a principal. If you want to establish discipline, it is right; but if you wish to teach students, educationists must be appointed. They can find many qualified and experienced teachers.”
Manjit Singh Kang, former vice-chancellor, Punjab Agricultural University, said, “Meritorious students need meritorious teachers. If all principals are from the military background, it is not a good sign. Such people may be talented but other deserving people could have been appointed principals.”
Bhupinder Singh Waraich, state president, Democratic Teachers Front, said, “When we have so many qualified teachers, there is no need to appoint a retired armyman. Government schools are struggling for infrastructure; the government should concentrate on this.”