Centre Releases Rs 1,298 crores for School Education in Punjab 

Rozana Spokesman  | Amanat Thaper

News, Punjab

Centre Releases Rs 1,298 crores for School Education in Punjab 

School Education in Punjab 

New Delhi: The Center has given the go-ahead to increase the rate of construction of schools at the secondary level and the hike in filling teacher posts in the state. The Union Ministry of Education has approved a budget of Rs 1,298.30 crore for school education in Punjab for the financial year 2023-24 under the Samagra Shiksha Scheme, reflecting the increase in the dropout rate in the state and teacher vacancies at the secondary level.

The Approved budget is 10% higher than the provisional allocation of Rs 1,181 crore indicated by the Union Ministry in January this year to the Punjab government to meet recurrent and non-recurring expenditure on infrastructure and initiatives to improve the quality of education. Of the total sanctioned budget, Rs 708.78 crore is the share of the Central Government, and the remaining Rs 589 crore is to be provided by the State Government. The scheme is jointly funded by the Center and the States on a 60:40 sharing basis.

Notably, Under the flagship programme, Rs 886.50 crore has been earmarked for primary education (classes 1 to 8) and Rs 397.72 crore for secondary education (classes 8 to 12) this year. Funds have been sanctioned for school upgradation, opening of new government schools, strengthening of existing schools, solar panels, quality interventions, digital initiatives and outdoor play materials for pre-primary classes. An amount of Rs.14 crore has been allocated for teacher education and training institutes including District Institutes of Education and Training (DIETs). However, the total fund availability for the state under the scheme will increase due to a spillover amount of Rs 280.64 crore from FY 2022-23 when the sanctioned budget was Rs 1,127.37 crore.

The Union Ministry, while appraising the state's annual action plan and budget proposal, flagged a significant rise in the dropout rate at the secondary level. The dropout rate doubled in 2020-21 to 17.2 in 2021-22. The state has been asked to take measures and conduct district-level surveys to reduce dropout rate and retention rate. The dropout rate at the secondary level was 1.6 in 2019-20 and has been on the rise since then. The School Education Department had informed the Project Approval Board (PAB) that parents are not aware of the free educational facilities, scholarship schemes and other concessions provided by the state government. Mega parent-teacher meetings are held regularly to create awareness. "An enrollment drive is underway to ensure enrollment of every child in school," it said.