The Punjab Cabinet last year decided to start pre-primary classes to increase enrolment in government school.
Chandigarh: The Punjab government’s decision to start pre-primary classes in government schools from the coming academic session is facing peculiar problems.
Primary school teachers, who are supposed to look after and teach the tiny tots, are reluctant to take up the responsibility, claiming that they are not trained to do so. They want the government to hire fresh teachers with Junior Basic Training (JBT) diploma to take up the task of elementary education — a requirement which the government , probably, did not foresee at the time of the announcement.
The teachers are also complaining that a sizeable number of existing government schools do not have helpers to take care of pre-school children's toilet needs, which is a very important aspect for this category of classes.
According to president of Punjab government primary teachers association Subash Chander, “If a person is forced to do work which he is not trained for, it will never bring the desired results.”
Anganwadi workers, who attend to the existing informal day-care centres for the under-three-year-old children, are against the pre-primary classes in government schools as they fear their centres will be shut down and they will become redundant.
The Anganwadis would shut across the state. According to president of workers’ association Harbgobind Kaur, “The Centre has released Rs 100 crore for anganwadis in the state, but the government has not released a single penny.”
Captain Amarinder Singh’s government did not foresee the challenges but went ahead with the announcement for launching pre-primary classes.
To counter the primary teacher's resistance, the government has now started training primary teachers so that they can make things interesting for young nursery kids.
The Punjab Cabinet last year decided to start pre-primary classes to increase enrolment in government school. Under the plan, children of three years and above will be enrolled in nursery classes as till now only children above six are admitted to government schools. However, sometimes the best of intentions do not yield the desired results if there is poor planning.
The recent hasty decision of the Punjab government to make Punjab MLAs pay their own income-tax on salary has also been put into cold storage due to heart burns among MLAs. Ironically, Amarinder Singh the present chief minister of Punjab threw open the benefit to all MLAs in the year 2004.
Even in the past some schemes announced with much fanfare but little planning have fallen flat. The former Shiromani Akali Dal government had launched Mai Bhago Vidya Scheme in 2011 to distribute free bicycles to girls students of government schools from Class 9 to 12. However, the scheme faced problems and it was later confined to students of Class 11 and 12 due to problem in distribution mechanism.
Similarly, the SAD government was forced to take back its populist decision to display pictures of the then chief minister Parkash Singh Badal on ambulances. In 2015, the Union government asked the Punjab government to either remove Mr Badal's pictures from the ambulances or forgo a grant under National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) worth Rs 13 crore. The SAD government obliged by removing Mr Badal’s pictures.
As for the plan to introuduce pre-primary classes, training for the pre-school staff is currently under way. The training programme is sharing the nuances of making classroom teaching interesting with music and colours for young minds.
As many as 20 resource personnel from the Pado Punjab Padao Punjab unit of the department and 12 from NGO Prarham are training 1,300 teachers in Chandigarh.
These teachers will teach the staff in approximately 13,000 primary schoolsis being carried out in six different workshops. Teachers are learning. The challenge now is to impress upon the staff to accept the innovation in teaching positively.