Adarsh schools in Punjab have been in the news for rather wrong reasons. Aimed at furthering the cause of education in rural areas, the government scheme envisaged the opening of one such ‘ideal’ school in each block to impart quality education to students, who came in the bracket of merit-cum-poverty, under the public private partnership (PPP) model. Unfortunately, irregularities cropped up, with members of the management facing charges ranging from misappropriation of funds to rape. The intent behind the opening of these schools cannot be faulted though, for students in rural areas are at a disadvantage compared to their urban counterparts. But these schools have not been run properly, as is evident from the protest by 600 students along with their parents against the decision to close the Government Adarsh School at Malla village in Faridkot district. The government ordered that the school be closed, services of teachers be terminated and students shifted to other government schools in the area.
The reason behind this is believed to be the PPP model, with the government deciding not to run the schools itself, but provide land for the building, as also uniform, midday meal and a fee waiver. Societies working in the field of education were asked to take over these schools. With private partners looking at it as a business proposition, and wanting to maximise profit, allegations of fake enrolment of students and appointment of ghost faculty arose, with the government providing 70 per cent of the funds, accounting for Rs 1,852 per student. The number of schools did not go beyond 25 and with the focus of the new Congress government in Punjab on Smart schools, the fate of Adarsh institutions appears uncertain.
But it’s unfair to shut the Malla school mid-session. It will involve a shift from the CBSE to the state board for the students, and from English to Punjabi as the medium of instruction. The government should look for ways to prevent inconvenience to so many, on account of the indiscretion of a few.