Guru Gobind Singh ji composed Benti Choupai for times of great duress, and it still carries the power to help us.

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Will you keep Gurbani Kirtan free?

Punjab is a state with 22 districts and 12793 villages. The list of villages in each district can be seen at

There are 19,175 government schools in Punjab, of which 12,857 are primary schools while 2,658 are middle schools. The state has 1,699 high schools and 1,961 senior secondary schools. The schools in each district can be seen at  A rough estimate is that the ratio of elementary schools to all schools post elementary (middle+high+senior secondary) is appx 2: 1. There is on an average a primary school in each village. There must be only a few elementary schools in cities with likely less enrolment due to alternative private options.

With 3.17 lakh new admissions in academic year (2020-2021), Punjab’s government schools have recorded a sizable strength of 26.6 lakh students, a 13.48 per cent increase as compared to the last academic year (2019-2020). These large admissions need evaluation with the following as possible reasons.

(a) Covid pandemic economic stress.

(b) Farm Bill related economic stress and uncertain future.

(c) Safety of children in less congested environments with Govt Schools on large land holdings.

(d) Improvement in standards of Govt Schools.

(e) Harassment by private schools demanding fees during Covid lockdowns.

(f) Expecting not opening school with wash away sessions and taking admissions for the time being.

The state of Govt schools education in Punjab is poor like the majority of states in India as reported by various NGOs working in the area and feedback by Govt School teachers. One of the root causes has been the failure of Primary education(till class 5) in primary schools, whose administration has been separated in 1990’s.

The subsequent Sarv Siksha Abhyans which was aimed at compulsory education at elementary level for all etc lead to passing and promoting every child under pressure by teaching staff. This has led to large numbers of students coming out of the elementary education system with extremely poor standards. This degradation in primary education makes it difficult for those teachers in high schools interested to teach the students.

The thrust of Govt and few NGOs in Punjab was directed towards finding a few hundred meritorious students from these 25 lac plus students,  either taken to few meritorious schools at secondary level or sponsoring in some super 30 type groups for entrance exams etc. The meritorious schools are also in bad shape and unable to meet the objectives for which they were established. The very concept of focusing on a few hundred meritorious by Govt and NGOs rather than focusing on improving the weak link primary education in an abysmal failure of the Public education system catering to the majority poor and lower middle class was ill conceived.

The failure of elementary education could be further traced to the following.

(a) Less posted strength of teaching staff and their clubbing different classes.

(b) Lack of specialised training with teachers at these levels or outdated training programs.

(c) Lack of motivation with teaching staff.

(c) Lack of interest by village Panchayts or negative interference.

(d) Lack of post school guidance by parents or through tuitions.

(e) Lack of regular attendance due to economic or other reasons.

The things must have deteriorated for the worse with recent Covid  due to:

(a) No viability for students with this background to undertake online classes. 

(b) Lack of any guidance at home.

(c) Maximum economic stress on these segments of society.

(d)  Non availability of  online resources in mother language Punjabi.

(e) The stress due to parents and villages participating in farm bills agitation and uncertainty.

The strength of students enhanced after recent admissions as under:

(a) The pre-primary section - 3.23 lakh

(b) In primary classes (1-5) - 9.20  lakh 

(c) In upper primary classes (6-8) -  6.11 lakh

(d) In secondary classes (class 9,10) - 4.24 lakh

(e) In higher secondary classes (11, 12)  - 3.84 lakh 

This gives an appx figure of 2 lakh children per class in Govt Schools in Punjab. Though there may be both inward and outward flow of students of all levels with major such reshuffles at admissions in upper primary level and higher secondary levels. The reshuffles at secondary level are more pronounced with the phenomenon of dummy admissions and diversion to vocational courses etc.

The weak link in the Punjab public education system of pre-primary and primary education involves 12.5 lakh students in 12857 schools. It involves 50% of the strength of the complete Public School system with 66% schools. Going by these figures it means there are on average 100 children in each of these primary schools. Though there may be fluctuation around this average 100 strengths based on village to village and data about deviation can be obtained.

The consistent efforts by the Govt in spite of the best of administrators placed are unable to improve things due to their inherent limitations in India. There has been a vast number of NGO started by eminent peoples in India to supplement the state's Public education structure with a very focused approach to various aspects. The salient features of approaches taken by these major 26 NGOs working from last three decades such as Pratham, CRY etc  are as under:

(a) Scale. Mostly decentralised either through chapters or funding other NGOs in turn.

(b) Focussed on primary and pre-primary (early childhood) education to improve the basic literacy and numeracy skills of children; 

(c) Govt School Teachers training and training of Principles. Even some have gone upto residential training programmes and residential workshops for school teachers.

(d) Empower and motivate teachers to bring about radical improvements in children’s learning outcomes and force education systems to change for the better.

(e) Promotion of Science. Providing hands-on experiential learning facilities etc. Organising science popularisation programmes.

(f) Research on methodologies and creating online resources. Creating learning aids which are cost effective.  Create low-cost, replicable programme models that can impact policy and practice

(g) Involve direct own teachers to assist in Schools and open own schools initiative etc

(h) Supplementary literacy and numeracy programmes in government primary schools especially in rural areas.

(i) Set up community-based learning centres which provide after-school remedial support to government primary students .

(j) After-school classes providing computer education, life skills and spoken English classes.

(k) Provide vocational and skills training leading to job opportunities for youth from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds. Provision of subsequent employment or entrepreneurship opportunities.

(l) Formulation of government policies by researching and debating critical issues in education, health and socio-economic development.

(m) Raise awareness about the importance of children’s learning outcomes among all stakeholders in education. 

(n) Prompt the public to assume the responsibility of changing the lives of underprivileged children”

(o) Regular on ground assessment and publishing the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER), a citizens-led assessment of learning outcomes of children in the 5-16 age group in rural India.

(p) Devising collaborative platforms for knowledge-building and sharing.  

(q) Establishing  libraries in government primaries and publishing  new book titles. Make our curriculum and learning materials available online to reach the entire student and teacher communities.

(r) Making the education process a meaningful and cherished experience through researching and developing innovative curriculums, learning materials, new pedagogies and teacher training. Publishing magazine focused on issues related to contemporary education pedagogies and practice, policies, problems, case studies, etc.

(s) Rural development through education, empowerment and employment of girl children and women

(t) To use underutilised capacity of schools, colleges, and offices after work hours as learning centres staffed by volunteer teachers, to provide remedial teaching and life skills education to underprivileged.

(u) Scholarship Programme.

(v) Admission of underprivileged children into private schools under s.12 (1) (c) of the RTE Act, which requires non-minority private schools to reserve 25 percent of capacity in primary school (classes I-VIII) for socio-economically disadvantaged students in their neighbourhood.

(w) Public-private partnerships with state governments so that all children in primary education receive nutritious, hygienic and empowering mid-day meals.

(x) Prevent, Rescue and rehabilitate  children from illegal forced labour and modern-day slavery or substitute it as drugs or addiction slavery especially in region of Punjab.

(y) Health and Nutrition along with improving literacy.

India's K-12 education system hasn’t collapsed completely, due to the efforts of the country’s private schools and estimated 2 million NGOs engaged in providing direct or supplementary education and health services to millions of children neglected by government schools, hospitals and other institutions.

Punjab needs some 60 thousand people (3% of 2 million appx same % population of Punjab in India) with a meagre contribution of Rs 2,000 per month and commitment to adopt 12,857 primary schools in each village.

Though Punjabis are known for philanthropy World over but negligible efforts has been focused by them to this very important aspect of large no of their state community being deprived of quality or infact the basic education. There is an urgent need of intervention or assistance by the community for contributing to this noble cause. The proposed solution is considered based on the following considerations.

(a) Any large scale centralised controlled effort is not going to bring fruitful results. 

(b) With such a large number of rich ,highly educated and well placed  Punjabi community World over and their zeal for Sewa only a platform for general model, guidelines and centralised innovations etc with flexibility needed to accomplish the task.

(c) The matter becomes easier with affiliation of Punjabi community to their roots and further special affiliation to their land and villages.

(d) The program can take extensive help where needed from the Public Universities in the region.

The solution proposed is as follows:

(a) Make a group of people and adopt a Primary school in the village. The group should preferably include few well placed people from the village both locally and settled in cities or abroad.

(b) Identify educated youths preferably graduate with good english and Math etc who can undertake post school tuitions for these appx 100 students. Each youth can teach 50 students in two batches of 25 each clubbing appx 2 adjacent classes for an appx duration of 90 minutes each. A village primary school will need approximately 2 teachers. Ladies can be accorded preference for their patience with teaching younger kids.

(c) The remuneration for these two teachers can be suitably fixed and should be appx Rs 2,500 per batch of 25 students per month. This will amount to incurring monthly expenditure of Rs 10,000 for adopting each primary school (village).

(d) The students should preferably not pay any amount or a token amount like Rs 25 per month can be taken based on local conditions.

(e) Additional help with buying anything for children for collective or individual requirement be left to the ingenuity of the group who adopted the village and their willingness in helping with ideas at the central site. 

(f) The classes can be held in the school if suitable or in the home of a teacher if able to accommodate appx 25 children. Otherwise alternative locations like village dharmshala, Mandir, Gurdwaras etc can be utilised.

(g) There can be regular ways to evaluate the effectiveness of these tuitions by the group sponsoring with help on methodologies evolved centrally by the NGO.

(h) There will be a progressive collection of resources in Punjabi language and displayed on the NGO site for use by tuition teachers, primary school teachers , students and the parents. The community can ask for sharing of resources developed during Smart schools, development of additional resources if required by the Punjabi University or GND University.  In the long run, if projects reach a big scale with resources, even Khan Academy, can be involved in the development of content in Punjabi. 

(i) The students post completion of primary education after improvement of standards can be encouraged to appear for admission in RIMC, Sainik and Military schools etc, which give admissions in class 6 based on entrance exams.

(j) The online lectures for training of tuition teachers involved(also primary teachers if interested) can be organised by old eminent teachers etc. There can be research work taken centrally on studying best practices worldwide for educating these young kids and how they can be incorporated in our context through tuition and primary school teachers.

(k) Other areas of interest could be developing animation videos with specific aims for discouraging use of drugs or any other form of addictions. These videos can be given to the Dept of education for playing in smart school projection systems.

(l) In the next phase the NGO can help establish  IOT labs for class 6 onwards in high and senior secondary schools by purchasing limited IOT equipment from the wholesale market and mentoring. Subsequently  the schools can be  encouraged to apply for Atal Tinkering Labs Programs for obtaining grants from Niti Ayog in the range of 20 lakhs etc.

(m) Other activities of NGO in the long run can involve helping children obtain maximum scholarships under various Govt schemes and encourage them to be selected in sports talent hunt type programs. Initially those sports which require least equipment and space like table tennis etc can be promoted selectively.

(n) In the long run the NGO may help organise centralised procurement of various pre primary level Montessori toys etc at very low costs, which could be useful for educating at that level for either keeping in schools or village centralised location if viable. 

The pilot project in two villages by Retd Principal and Retd DEO will be undertaken. The idea has been discussed with some like minded people retired from senior post  and they are also thinking of working on these lines with availability of resources with them. 

Please participate in this noble initiative by :

(a) Forwarding this message in your circles and giving your valuable suggestions. 

(b) Also you're willing to join this noble initiative either with active participation adopting a village by forming a group and organising or associated with this initiative in other ways. 

(c) Please feel free to give any suggestions for proceeding to tackle the problem differently or how its scope can be enhanced in the long run.

(d) Website for this initiative with the finalising name of NGO will be developed soon. Initial coordination can be done through whatsapp groups etc.

(e) District wise chapters of the NGO can be made in due course once they reach sufficient strength or as people come forward asking for the same.

(f) Primary schools in cities catering to particular areas will be treated on a similar model by groups interested to work in cities.

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