Pay and name school scheme discontinued in Punjab, edu minister says he doesn’t know

The much flaunted scheme of the Punjab government, in which private individuals could pay and name a government school in name of a relative or a noted personality, has been given a quiet burial. The burial has in fact been so quiet that even Education Minister Sikandar Singh Maluka is not aware of it.

On February 5, school education department passed an order that the old scheme has been amended and from now, this facility will not be available to private individuals. The order added that this facility will continue to be available for the naming of laboratories, blocks, libraries, rooms, halls etc.

The order (a copy of which is with The Indian Express) was issued by Special Secretary (Education). Maluka, however, seems to have no inkling of it. "The scheme has not been amended or done away with. It is going to be a very successful scheme. There are several persons, mostly NRIs, who are showing interest in naming schools in the memory of their dear ones and I don't see any reason why it should be discontinued," he said.

Department officials, however, claimed the order has been issued after a detailed discussion with the minister. "The minister was made to understand that allowing everyone to name a school can lead to the department receiving requests to name schools after former terrorists, smugglers or other criminals. Since there is no clause for refusal, the department will be in a piquant situation," said an official.

Maluka, however, claimed there was a refusal clause. "We can refuse such cases. We are not bound to accept every request. Also, we will not allow more than one re-naming for a family," he said.

A departmental note put up on the file before the order was issued pointed out that the scheme was not a "very good idea." "It can impact the autonomy of the school. Also, the fact that the name of the school has been bought does not instill any confidence in students. In fact, it may be counter productive in the long run," the note added. Maluka, however, disagreed. "How is it possible that the family who pays for the name will start interfering in the working of the school? If you name a school after Shahid Bhagat Singh, will it give his family a right to compromise the autonomy of the school?" he asked.

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