The Education Department has introduced 10 marks for the practical knowledge of English in the final examination of classes VI-VIII from the current session onwards.
Marks for proficiency in the language have been fixed to give an impetus to the ongoing Parho Punjab Parhao Punjab project launched in July last year by Secretary, School Education, Krishan Kumar. More than 10 lakh students of classes VI-X in about 9,000 schools have been taught 1,000 English words each since the exercise began in August. The first evaluation yesterday showed mentionable results and recorded interesting anecdotes.
Krishan Kumar said: “Following detailed discussions with subject experts, we found that the knowledge of an average 2,500 words in English allowed decent conversation skills and of about 5,000 words allowed mentionable writing skills. In the first phase, we have taken just 1,000 words. More will be added in the second phase, which will commence in the next academic session in April.”
Positive public response
There are reports of a positive response to the programme from various sections. For instance, Sarpanch Kulwant Singh Sandhu of Begowal village in Sangrur announced that future earnings from two acres of community land would be given to the village school. Talwandi Sabo Power Limited came forward to sponsor the programme in Mansa district. In Moga, a resident donated books. Organisers at several places gave prizes from their own pockets.
Teachers and school principals contacted across the state were unanimous in appreciating the effort towards improving English. A principal of a school in Amritsar said: “Punjabi is our mother tongue. We proudly own the subject and work to maintain its splendour. At the same time, educating children today without making them proficient in English is not complete.”
One grievance regarding the programme was that it began in the middle of the session (August). It was difficult for teachers to have students adapt to a late-introduced exercise. Bigger difficulty was ensuring that they remembered what they were taught.
> Project coordinator Harpreet Kaur said “Parho Punjab Parhao Punjab” was designed after a baseline testing on 6,20,889 students to judge their academic standing. The test showed that nearly 9 per cent of the students did not even recognise alphabets. One big problem associated with the exercise was finding sufficient number of resource personnel.
> The coordinator said: “We have only about 1,000 teachers with masters in English. The subject elsewhere was being taught by social science teachers. Words chosen by the planning team were basic and did not require much effort to remember. So the resource personnel taught the teachers who handled classes.”
> “We are well aware that not all programmes are carried out perfectly. It all depends on the sincerity of the executors. There is a small section which showed reservations. The overall impact, however, has given a positive push to the programme for future,” Project coordinator Harpreet Kaur said.