Friday February 23, 2018
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Himachal lawmakers rue decline in education

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By Vishal Gulati  

Shimla: About 200 state-run primary schools in Himachal Pradesh have no teacher at all. Fifty percent of Class 5 students in government schools are not able to comprehend textbooks meant for Class 2 students and cannot solve three-digit problems, so say many of the state’s legislators.

Photo credit: www.hillpost.in
Photo credit: www.hillpost.in

Concerned over the declining standards of education at the primary and elementary levels, the legislators, cutting across party lines, have demanded in the assembly reforms in the education system to check further decline.

Hailing the Allahabad High Court judgement of August 18, two of them – one from the opposition BJP and other from the Congress – demanded that politicians, bureaucrats and judges must also send their children to government schools. This is the only way, the court said, that the pathetic state of government schools in the state could be improved.

Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, who is known for his reforms in education, favours reviving the British system of carrying out inspections of educational institutions to improve the standard of education.

If BJP member Inder Singh, who moved the resolution that was later rejected by a voice vote, is to be believed, 107 primary schools in the state have only one or two students each. Likewise, 943 schools have a single teacher and 200 schools don’t even have a teacher. But that has not prevented the chief minister from going on a spree of opening new schools, he said.

“The percentage of children studying in government schools came down to 58 percent last year from 90 percent in 2003.”

The ex-serviceman-turned-politician believes the total ban on mid-term transfers, starting lower kindergarten and upper kindergarten classes in government schools, introducing English from Class 1 and re-introduction of the pass/fail system till Class 8 will help check a further dip.

“The Allahabad High Court has given a historic decision. It should be followed in the state too and then the standard of education will improve,” Inder Singh added.

The Congress’ Asha Kumar, a former education minister, said nobody wanted to serve in the remote areas.

She suggested that the government also set up cluster and model schools with residential facilities.

Another former education minister, I.D. Dhiman of the BJP, suggested pre-primary schools that will help increasing enrollment in government schools.

Hailing the Allahabad High Court decision, Congress member and Deputy Speaker Jagat Singh Negi, who belongs to remote Kinnaur district, said it should also be made mandatory for the children of teachers and lecturers to get admission in government schools.

Only then, he said, would the standard of education improve.

Quoting a 2012 education report of NGO Pratham, the BJP’s Hans Raj, a former lecturer, said 50 percent of Class 5 students in government schools are not able to comprehend textbooks meant for Class 2 students.

Replying to the resolution, which was rejected with a voice vote, Chief Minister Veerbhadra Singh said there were inspectors of schools during the British days whose job was to do just that.

“We need to have school inspectors. Their duties should be to the test the students’ level of education and that of the educational institutions. They should conduct surprise checks,” he added.

Admitting that the country’s education system is not a role model, the chief minister, who is at helm for the sixth time, noted: “I can say education is much better what it was before. I will like that in future the state should be an example for other states.”

Virbhadra Singh, who holds the education portfolio, said five schools would be developed and granted the status of smart schools.

He said he did not mind opening a new school in far-flung areas, even if there were just two students.

Officials said the state, with over 6.8 million people, has 10,738 primary, 2,292 middle, 846 higher secondary and 1,552 senior secondary schools besides 86 degree colleges.

(IANS)

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Saw AAP MLAs Assaulting Chief Secretary, CM’s Advisor Tells Police

The AAP defended by stating that Jain had initially told police that he did not witness any assault and police has threatened Jain to change his statement

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The AAP had denied the charges of assault and said that the Chief Secretary was making allegations at the behest of the BJP. Wikimedia Commons

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s adviser V. K. Jain on Thursday told police that he saw AAP MLAs Amanatullah Khan and Prakash Jarwal “physically assaulting” Chief Secretary Anshu Prakash, according to Jain’s statement recorded by the Delhi Police.

The AAP defended by stating that Jain had initially told police that he did not witness any assault and police has threatened Jain to change his statement.

On Tuesday, the Chief Secretary had alleged that he was beaten up by the two AAP MLAs in the presence of Kejriwal at the Chief Minister’s residence on Monday night, where he had been called for an emergency meeting.

ALSO READ: The assault on Chief Secretary exposes the double standards of AAP government

Police later arrested Khan and Jarwal and they were sent to judicial custody till Thursday.

According to the Chief Secretary, the Chief Minister’s adviser had called him over the phone and asked him to come to the Chief Minister’s residence for the meeting and Jain was also present there.

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According to the statement, Jain also saw that the Chief Secretary’s spectacles had fallen to the ground and the Chief Secretary picked them up and left the room. Wikimedia Commons

On Thursday, the Delhi Police submitted Jain’s statement at a city court, which said that Jain had gone to the washroom during the meeting and as he came out he saw the two AAP MLAs “physically assaulting” the Chief Secretary.

The statement was recorded under Section 161 of the CrPC, which means that it was recorded in front of the police and not a magistrate.

Sources told IANS that Jain later recorded his statement in front of a magistrate under section 164 of the CrPC.

“The statement under section 164 was later recorded with the magistrate in front a camera, without the presence of police. In that statement also he (Jain) has said that he saw the two MLAs physically assaulting the Chief Secretary,” a police officer privy to the case told IANS.

The officer said that the statement under section 164 has also been submitted to the court.

Jain was first questioned on Wednesday morning and then again on Thursday and his statement was recorded on Thursday.

The change in Jain’s statement that the AAP was referring to was from a “question and answer” with Jain recorded by police after questioning him on Wednesday.

According to a copy of Wednesday’s “question and answer” recorded by police, when asked whether Jain saw the Chief Secretary being manhandled, he replied that he had gone to the washroom in between the meeting and he could not say what happened during that time.

“By putting pressure on him (Jain) throughout the day (Thursday) and by threatening him, police has forced him to change his statement,” AAP MP Sanjay Singh told the media here on Thursday.

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Singh said that the whole issue was a conspiracy to “bring down the Delhi government” and to “defame the AAP”. Wikimedia Commons

 

“How is it that the same Jain who emphatically said yesterday that he witnessed no assault during the entire time that he was present there has now claimed otherwise?” he asked.

Singh said that AAP MLAs were being arrested over an alleged assault of which there was no proof.

“But on the other hand, despite there being video footage of officials assaulting Delhi Cabinet Minister Imran Hussain, there is no action taken against the guilty by the Delhi Police,” the AAP MP said.

The court on Thursday sent the two AAP MLAs, arrested on charges of assaulting the Chief Secretary, to judicial custody for 14 days.

ALSO READ: Delhi Chief Secretary row: AAP MLA arrested

Orders on the bail pleas of the two AAP MLAs and also on their police custody will be pronounced on Friday.

Meanwhile, scores of Delhi government employees across the city observed a five-minute silence outside their respective offices as a protest against the alleged assault on the Chief Secretary.

The IAS Association said that officers would continue the protest every day, till steps are taken to “ensure safety and dignity” of government staff in the city.

The AAP also hit out at Lt Governor Anil Baijal by stating that he was “working as a BJP agent” and demanded action against those involved in “manhandling and beating up” Hussain and his aide at the Delhi Secretariat on Tuesday. (IANS)