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Counselling for admission to meritorious schools begins

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Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 16

The Senior Secondary Residential School for Meritorious Students or simply the Meritorious Schools, commenced their counselling for the session 2024-25. The admissions will be held for Class XI for the coming session with centralised counselling, which will go on for two days. Overall, there are nine meritorious schools across the state with 4,600 seats. In the first round of counselling, 2,400 were evaluated on the basis of entrance tests conducted earlier this year and their ranks. Out of total seats in these schools, 60 per cent are for boys and 40 per cent for girls. A majority of the students seeking admissions to these schools fall in the categories of BPL (Below Poverty Line) card holders and underprivileged families.

Government Senior Secondary Residential School for Meritorious Students, Amritsar, one of the nine Meritorious Schools in the state, has currently a strength of 500 students for class XI and XII. The cut-off for last year’s admissions was 95 per cent and the school has more number of girl students than boys.

High student intake, yet shortage of teachers

Meritorious Schools were opened by the Punjab Government in 2014 with the aim of giving free education to the needy and deserving students. A pilot project, under the then SAD-BJP government, these schools are still struggling a decade later to get teachers and infrastructure facelift. While most of these schools have qualified teachers, the Meritorious School, Amritsar, has only 40 teachers despite 55 designated teaching posts. Moreover, the teachers have been struggling to get regularised, with no entitlement for allowance or incentives.

Most of the school’s DPE (Department of Physical Education) faculty is also performing additional duties as hostel warden. Teaching and non-teaching staff of the schools for meritorious students have been demanding regularisation of jobs under the state education department and have expressed their willingness to accept the offer regarding regularisation given to SSA/RMSA teachers. In 2018, then Education Minister OP Soni had announced that the teachers would be regularised. But till date, nothing substantial has been done in this regard.

Another challenge for Meritorious Schools is the development of Schools of Eminence. With four Schools of Eminence in district, offering the same criterion for admissions from Class 9 till Class 12, the scope of these special residential schools becomes weak for meritorious students.

Despite the odds, these schools offer well-equipped labs, library and qualified faculty and facilitate preparations for competitive exams like NEET and JEE which are some of the factors that have managed to attract students to these schools.

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