Excellent school admissions consultation meeting starts

Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 16th

The Higher Secondary Boarding School for Merit Students, or simply the School of Merit, has started counseling for the 2024-25 session. Class XI admissions will be held for the next session with intensive counseling lasting two days. Overall, there are nine high-performing schools in the state with a capacity of 4,600 students. In the first round of counseling, 2,400 people were evaluated based on the entrance exam held earlier this year and their ranks. Of the total capacity of these schools, boys make up 60 percent and girls make up 40 percent. The majority of students seeking admission to these schools fall under the category of BPL (Below Poverty Line) card holders and underprivileged families.

Government Higher Secondary Boarding School for Meritorious Students in Amritsar is one of the nine meritorious schools in the state and currently has a student population of 500 in classes XI and XII. Last year’s enrollment cutoff was 95 percent, and the school has more female students than male students.

There are many students, but there is a shortage of teachers.

Merit schools were opened by the Punjab government in 2014 with an aim to provide free education to poor and underprivileged students. Ten years later, these schools are still struggling to renovate teachers and infrastructure in a pilot project undertaken under the then SAD-BJP government. Although most of these schools have qualified teachers, Amritsar’s Merit School has only 40 teachers despite having 55 designated teaching positions. Additionally, teachers are not entitled to benefits or incentives and struggle to find regular employment.

Most of the school’s DPE (Department of Physical Education) teachers also perform additional duties as hostel wardens. Teaching and non-teaching staff of schools for top performers have demanded regularization of their jobs under the state education ministry and have expressed their intention to accept offers regarding regularization of SSA/RMSA teachers. In 2018, the then Education Minister OP Soni announced the regularization of teachers. However, to date, no substantive steps have been taken in this regard.

Another challenge for high-achieving schools is the development of high-performing schools. There are four meritorious schools in the district, offering the same admission criteria from class 9 to class 12, making the reach of these special boarding schools weaker for meritorious students.

Despite the disadvantages, these schools provide well-equipped laboratories, libraries and qualified faculty, facilitating preparation for competitive exams such as NEET and JEE, which attracts students to these schools. This is part of what attracts people to Japan.

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