Short of funds, cash-strapped govt turns to schools for help

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The cash-strapped Punjab government was once again caught on the wrong foot on Saturday during the inaugural day of the three-day state-level school games for primary children, being held at the Guru Nanak stadium in Ludhiana.

To meet a shortage of funds for the event, that has over 900 children participating, the government has asked blocks in the district to pay Rs 250 per school for refreshments for players and teachers.

Now, agitated teachers' unions are questioning the decision. Ramanjeet Singh Sandhu, block President of B Ed teachers, said: "In our Mangat block, which has about 47 government schools, the education department sought Rs 250 per school for providing refreshment to students and teachers in the school games. This is pathetic. The state has no money for the refreshment as well."

He added: "Moreover, we also got information that due to paucity of funds, each block in Ludhiana was asked to contribute Rs 75,000 for the sports event. There are 19 blocks in the district and they were told that the money will be refunded once the government releases funds. But if the government has no funds, they should not organise games or should have given funds in advance."

The Democratic Employees Front also condemned this attitude of the state government. The teachers stated that majority of the teacher unions refused to pay this contribution. Sources, however, revealed that the sports department has sanctioned a meagre Rs 50,000 for the state-level event and hence to fill the ga, contributions were sought.

Education Minister Sikander Singh Maluka, who was the chief guest, also admitted a shortage of funds for the Education Department and stated that he will talk to the finance department regarding the issue. He, however, did not comment on the contributions sought from government schools.

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