Over one-third of Punjab MLAs are school, college dropouts

For a state where surveys of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan show a high dropout rate of 40 per cent across primary, middle and high schools, it is no coincidence that 42 of Punjab's present league of 117 MLAs are school or college dropouts.

Who's Who, a glossy book of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha released last month it took the Vidhan Sabha staff over three years to make MLAs give their details shows that academics for many Punjab MLAs come in prefixes and suffixes like "under-middle", "under-matric", "pre-engineering", "pre-medical" or "BA Part I" and "BA Part II".

At the bottom of the list are three MLAs who dropped out before Class VIII. SAD legislator Balvir Singh Ghunas puts it as "primary", Congress's Joginder Singh as "pre-middle" and Shiromani Akali Dal's Sant Ajit Singh as "middle". Incidentally, Sant Ajit Singh is the chairman of the Assembly's Library Committee.

Another seven legislators are "under-matric" (below Class X), including Animal Husbandry and Fisheries Minister Gulzar Singh Ranike. Among those who completed matriculation but did not study further are 11 legislators, including two Cabinet ministers Revenue Minister Ajit Singh Kohar and Minister for Jails and Tourism Hira Singh Gabria. Another four, including Irrigation Minister Janmeja Singh Sekhon, have cited their education as "higher secondary".

The most interesting prefixes come with those who went a step further but not really. So SAD MLA Jatinder Singh Kariha has a "pre-engineering" degree and Congress MLA Joginder Pal Singh a "pre-medical" degree.

For those who don't quite understand the term, Kariha, 62, explains, "I belong to the old times. In those days, there was a one-year pre-engineering degree after Class XI. I completed the one-year course and quit studies. So, though it is equivalent to Class XII, my qualification is of pre-engineering. When the people have given us a higher degree how do our academic ones matter."

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