Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann Monday visited two Delhi government schools, a mohalla clinic and a government hospital on Monday.
After visiting the School of Specialised Excellence (SoSE) at Kalkaji, Mann told the media, “This is the next level of education. What big schools cannot think about, government schools have started implementing. Learning is happening digitally, and there is a collaboration with big companies. I have seen such schools in the US and Canada, but not in India. I spoke to several students and asked them where they were studying before. Many have come from private schools.”
Mann was accompanied by Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and officials from the Punjab and Delhi governments on his visit, along with Punjab Education Minister Gurmeet Singh Meet Hayer and Health Minister Vijay Singla. The team visited two government schools — the School of Specialised Excellence at Kalkaji and the Kautilya Government Sarvodaya Bal Vidyalaya at Chirag Enclave.
Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, Member of Parliament from Punjab Raghav Chadha and AAP MLA Atishi were also present at the schools.
Delhi education department officials made a presentation about the SoSE, explaining the curriculum, and method of assessment. Learning for competitive exams and boards has been “clubbed” at such schools, Sisodia explained to Mann and the officials from Punjab.
The team visited the library and a ‘connected classroom’, where students access learning material on laptops, and interacted with students from classes X and XII. Kejriwal also explained to Mann that groups of students were asked to develop “business ideas” as part of the Business Blasters programme, in which each student was given Rs 2,000. Students who were part of the programme told the team about their ideas. At the Sarvodaya Bal Vidyalaya, Sisodia informed Mann that the SoSE is a “new model,” while the Bal Vidyalaya represents the “re-modelling of an old school”. The team also visited the swimming pool and science labs at the school, and sat through a ‘Happiness Class’ and ‘Deshbhakti Class’ along with students.
Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain accompanied Mann and his team to the mohalla clinic at Greater Kailash, where officials explained that the aim was to provide primary healthcare. They told them how the clinics are staffed, medicines are procured, and medical tests are conducted. The team interacted with people who were at the clinic for check-ups. The team also visited the Rajiv Gandhi Super Specialty Hospital at Dilshad Garden.
According to a communication from the Delhi Chief Minister’s office, Mann said: “Mirroring the Delhi government’s efforts, we will train teachers and principals in Punjab. We will borrow suggestions from them to reform our government schools. We will create an environment in government schools for students to thrive in; children of both the rich and poor will sit and study at the same desk. Delhi’s mohalla clinics are being praised all over the world. We are committed to providing similar world-class healthcare facilities to the people of Punjab.”
He added, “I will take along a blueprint of Delhi’s education and health models for us to adapt. The Kejriwal government has overcome many challenges, especially that of (shortage of) land to deliver quality infrastructure. We have enough scope for significant improvement and development in Punjab. Unlike Delhi, there is plenty of space in Punjab. We make the best use of our land, we will transform the smallest of our local schools.”
Mann’s visit to Delhi has drawn flak from the opposition in Punjab. Former Punjab Congress President Navjot Singh Sidhu said in a tweet that the two-day Delhi visit is a “deviation from real issues, mere photo op for benefit in other elections and waste of state exchequer”. Shiromani Akali Dal leader Daljit Singh Cheema also tweeted that before planning a tour to study the Delhi model of education, Mann should have toured his own schools first.