NAS 2021: Punjab schools outshine Delhi, reignite debate over better educational model

The schoolchildren from Punjab have excelled in the nationwide learning outcome levels survey, conducted by the Ministry of Education, as per the report of the National Achievement Survey (NAS) 2021, released Wednesday. Punjab has not only scored more than the national average in all the categories, but has also topped in 10 of the 15 subjects, leaving behind other states including Delhi.

The survey was conducted on November 12 last year, and the students of class 3, 5, 8 and 10 were tested in various subjects to assess their learning achievement and to assess impact of pandemic on academics.

Punjab’s excellent performance comes amid the push by Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann who wants to bring an “education revolution” in state by implementing the “Delhi model”. Mann said that government schools in Punjab have been “lagging behind” and need a complete overhaul as has been done by Arvind Kejriwal in Delhi.

In the run up to this year’s Assembly polls, education had emerged as one of the core issues with the then opposition Aam Aadmi Party and the then ruling Congress indulging in pitched discussions and debates. There even was a Twitter war between the education ministers of Punjab and Delhi.

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Amid the debate, which is still continuing with Mann leading a delegation to visit schools in the national capital, the latest NAS results show Punjab has scored much better than Delhi in all subjects for all classes tested. Even for Class 10, Delhi scored less than Punjab in all subjects including English in which Punjab stands third (after Chandigarh and Goa). While Punjab’s average score in English for Class 10 is 330, it is 321 for Delhi (out of 500).

The survey results have put question marks on the claims and remarks by Mann and other AAP leaders including Education Minister Gurmeet Singh Meet Hayer, who has been touring government schools to take “ground-level feedback”.

In a statement Wednesday, Hayer had said: “The deteriorating level of education was revealed during my visits to schools…The earlier governments failed to provide basic facilities and showed false baseline results by encouraging copying so as to paint a false picture of development. That explains why the government schools are lagging behind…”.

Earlier, Mann too had accused the previous SAD-BJP and Congress governments of not doing enough for the education sector and held them responsible for the “pathetic state” of government schools. “Merely painting walls and buildings does not make a smart school…I have no doubt about the ability of our principals and teachers but they have never been provided the infrastructure and ambience which is required to make our education system world-class,” he had said recently.

On Thursday, former education minister and Shiromani Akali Dal leader Daljit Singh Cheema asked Mann to congratulate children in government schools as well as seek apology for defaming them. The NAS 2021 has made it clear “how Delhi model of school, used as a propaganda tool by AAP in Punjab, is a failure. Mann should acknowledge this fact and not try to impose it on Punjabis besides working to strengthen the current Punjab Model which has given good dividends,” he added.

Former CM Capt Amarinder Singh too lauded Punjab model of education. “How can a failed Delhi model replace what is already successful,” he asked. He also targeted the Congress saying that in order to deny credit to him, they disowned everything done by his government paving the way for AAP to win. “The Congress party deliberately ignored all these achievements between 2017 to September 2021 before I resigned,” he said in a statement.

Meanwhile, the opposition leaders also questioned ‘silence’ of Mann and Hayer over Punjab’s excellent performance in NAS 2021.

Sukhpal Singh Khaira, Congress MLA from Bholath, tweeted: “I’m surprised why @BhagwantMann & @meet_hayer are maintaining silence over Punjab’s great achievement of being No 1 in the NAS of Govt Of India? They should at least congratulate teachers & students of Pb. They should now propagate Pb model to @ArvindKejriwal instead of Delhi model.”

Former education secretary Krishan Kumar lauded effort of teachers and students for the feat.

Learning during Covid

– 99% students from class 3 said that they like going to school
– 69% teachers who teach class 3 said they were overloaded with work
– 32% students from class 3 said that they faced obstacles while learning at home during the pandemic; 32% had no digital device at home, 37% faced anxiety and 39% felt happy being at home
– 66% teachers who teach class 5 said that they were overloaded with work
– 31% students from class 5 said that they faced obstacles while learning at home during the pandemic; 31% had no digital device at home, 40% faced anxiety and 36% felt happy being at home.
– 99% students from class 8 said that they faced obstacles during the pandemic and 82% had no digital device at home.
– 27% students from class 10 said that they faced obstacles during pandemic and 25% had no digital device at home

Other highlights Punjab

-English continues to be a stumbling block for class 10 students in Punjab. It is the only subject in which the state has stood third (after Chandigarh and Goa) but has still scored 330, more than the national average of 277 out of 500. However, still the score has improved from 252 in 2017.

– Of 3565 schools that participated in the survey from Punjab comprising 1.17 lakh students and 16972 teachers, 39% were government schools, 35% private recognized, 18% government aided and 8% run by central government.

– In all parameters, girls have performed better than boys in Punjab.

-Except for Language (Punjabi) in class 8 and Science, Social Science and English in 10, rural students have performed better than urban students in all other subjects in all classes.

– Except for Language (Punjabi) in class 8 and English in class 10, state owned government schools have performed better than private and aided schools.

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