In a historic first step to facilitate access of poor students to top-quality education, Chief Minister, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, Thursday formally launched the Chief Minister’s Model School Scheme by inaugurating the first-ever government model school at the picturesque heritage town of Basohli, amidst loud cheers by students.
He also inaugurated the historic SRML HSS at Jammu as a Model School.
In another important decision, the Chief Minister announced creation of a new Development Authority for Basohli, which he called the Gateway to J&K, so as to tap the full tourism potential of the magnificent Ranjit Sagar Dam.
Accompanied by the Deputy Chief Minister, Dr. Nirmal Singh, Minister for Health & Medical Education, Ch. Lal Singh, Minister for Education, Nayeem Akhtar, Advisor to the Chief Minister, Prof. Amitabh Mattoo, Minister of State for School Education, Priya Sethi, Mufti Sayeed arrived here this morning to usher in a new dawn in the field of education in the state.
After inaugurating the schools, the Chief Minister inspected the new smart classrooms and fully-equipped computer labs with world-class facilities, which will familiarize students with new trends in the field of education. He congratulated the students for witnessing a new movement that aims to change the face of education sector forever. “I am happy we are making a new beginning from Basohli and Jammu from where we will take this movement to other parts of the state,” he promised.
Describing education as the most important pillar of a robust society, the Chief Minister credited Nayeem Akhtar for providing wings to the dreams of those poor students who have no access to modern tools of teaching. “We have launched a new movement in imparting quality education to our students because unless we make strides in education, we cannot progress on any other front” he stated.
Under the new Model School Scheme, 113 government higher secondary schools will be converted into Model Schools in the first phase. In all, 220 schools will be converted into model schools for which Rs. 16.50 crore have been allocated for creation of smart class rooms and state-of-the-art computer labs. The Basohli HSS, which was converted into Model School today, was adopted by the Chief Minister during his earlier visit.
The Chief Minister is scheduled to inaugurate two similar model schools in Kashmir valley shortly.
Laying stress on emulating private schools in dissemination of quality education, Mufti Sayeed said the Government will bring in structural changes and take corrective measures to put the sector, which had received a huge setback over the past few years, back on track. “Teachers are nation builders and we will take every step to train them so that they impart quality education to our students,” he said, while expressing concern over general decline in the quality of education in the government sector.
Placing high priority on upgrading the infrastructure in existing schools, Mufti Sayeed flagged access to learning and teaching aids and training of teachers as critical areas for providing quality to standards in education. “Model Schools will have to adopt primary schools in their catchment areas to inculcate new concepts of teaching to students early in their career,” he added.
Referring to the huge potential of state’s southern gateway, the Chief Minister announced setting up of a new Tourism Development Authority for Basohli to tap the tourism and heritage potential of a historic town. He said he was riveted by the beauty of the Ranjit Sagar Dam when he first visited the place earlier this year. “How we missed such a magnificent lake is still a mystery to me,” he added.
Mufti Sayeed directed Chief Secretary to speed up procedural processes for setting up Basohli Tourism Development Authority. He also said that till Pathankote-Basohli Road project is sanctioned under CRF by the Union Ministry for Road Transport and National Highways, the state government will start double-landing of the road on a fast-track basis. “I wish to see the hustle and bustle of tourists in Basohli from next year,” he said, while indicating that Tourism Department is making a concept plan for setting up a mega amusement park to promote it as a major tourist destination, catering to neighbouring states of Punjab and Himachal Pradesh.
Handing out an assurance to promote exquisite arts and crafts of Basohli, in particular Basohli Paintings, the Chief Minister announced setting up of a skill development institute to expose craftsmen to new trends and design. “Handicraft is pride of our state that played a key role in resuscitating our economy during testing times,” he added.
Addressing a huge gathering of students and teachers, Deputy Chief Minister praised the Chief Minister for his vision in transforming the education sector, which, he said, was reduced to a mere transfer industry by the previous government. He praised the vision of the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi and the Chief Minister, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, for forging an alliance to usher in a new era of all-round development in J&K. “The patronage that the education segment has received by the present Government will continue till we achieve benchmark levels,” he said while urging the Education Minister to initiate similar measures in several remote and far-flung areas where schools still need improvement.
Ch. Lal Singh, who is also MLA Basohli, thanked the Chief Minister for launching a new movement in universalization of education from Basohli. He also announced setting up of a nursing college at Basohli in the vacant old hospital building so that requirement of female paramedic staff in healthcare sector.
Describing education as the only passport to big job market, Nayeem Akhtar said the Chief Minister has today taken a revolutionary step in giving a new direction to the state’s education sector. He said the Government will upgrade 12 more schools in Kathua as model schools which include GHSSs at Batrote, Gund, Plassey, Hatli, Mahanpur, Ramkote, Nagrota Gajru, Billawar, Baddoo, Hiranagar and Kathua. “We will leave no stone unturned in fulfilling the dreams and aspirations of Chief Minister in bettering the quality of education,” he added.
Also present on the occasion were Chief Secretary, B. R. Sharma, Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister, B. B. Vyas, Divisional Commissioner, Jammu, Dr. Pawan Kotwal, Commissioner / Secretary, School Education, Shaleen Kabra, Deputy Commissioner, Kathua, Ramesh Kumar, Director School Education, Jammu, Smitha Sethi and senior officers of the education department.