Chief Minister's Office, Chandigarh, Punjab, December 31: With the distribution of 44,015 smart phones marking the culmination of the first phase of the ‘Punjab Smart Connect Scheme’, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Thursday fulfilled his Government’s promise to give 1,74,015 smart phones to all class 12 students of the state’s Government Schools by the end of the year. 

At a virtual event to mark the occasion, Captain Amarinder Singh said that this unique initiative of the State Government would be instrumental in facilitating seamless e-learning in government schools, especially amid the Covid-19 pandemic. He pointed out that 1,30,000 smart phones had been given earlier to students of class 12. 

The Chief Minister also promised to give 1428 smart phones soon to Class XII students who had taken admission after the announcement of the scheme, thus taking the total number to 1,75,443 (88059 boys and 87284 girls) of 1946 Senior Secondary Schools, at a cost of Rs. 87.84 crore. 

The event witnessed simultaneous distribution of phones at 1101 schools today by various Ministers, MLAs and other dignitaries across the state. 

Describing the year 2020 as an unprecedented and difficult year for humanity, the Chief Minister said that he was sure Punjab and Punjabis would triumph. He exhorted teachers and students to work hard with utmost dedication to ensure the best results in the Board exams in the country. 

Extending his heartiest greetings to all citizens, especially the students, on New Year’s eve, the Chief Minister expressed delight at being able to fulfill his promise to equip all Class 12 students with smartphones by the end of the year. 

Reiterating his government’s firm commitment to provide the best infrastructure in schools to enable students to compete with their peers in private and convent schools, the Chief Minister said that 7842 schools had been converted into smart schools with the latest infrastructure, coupled with computers, tablets etc, and 1400 more government schools would also be converted into smart schools by the end of the next year. Further, he said the School Education Department had converted 16589 classrooms as smart classrooms across the state, besides providing 3502 tablets in 394 schools at a cost of Rs. 4 crore. 

Pointing out that Punjab was the first state in the country to universalize Pre-Primary School Education in the year 2017, the Chief Minister said all the primary schools were now covered. Apart from this, nearly 3.71 lakh students of government schools had opted English as a medium of instruction, he added. 

The Chief Minister said the recent reforms implemented in government schools to raise the standard of education had led to unprecedented increase in enrolment by 14.9%, as an increasing number of students were shifting from private to government schools. 

On the occasion, Amrik Singh, Anujdeep Singh, Davinder Singh, Gurtej Singh, Parveer Singh and Sahajpreet Singh of Government Senior Secondary School Mundhon Sangtian, Narinder Kaur, Khushi, Rukhsana and Shivani Devi of Government Senior Secondary School, Jhanjeri of Mohali district received smart phones from the Chief Minister. 

Speaking on the occasion, PPCC President Sunil Jakhar congratulated the Chief Minister and School Education Minister for providing a level playing field to the students of Government Schools through ‘Punjab Smart Connect Scheme’. 

School Education Minister Vijay Inder Singla said the state government had successfully accomplished the gigantic task of distributing smart phones to the students especially belonging to the economically weaker sections of society, to ensure their uninterrupted online education during the Covid times. 

Sports & Youth Services Welfare Minister Rana Gurmit Singh Sodhi asked the School Education Minister to ensure minimum one period compulsory for sports activities to encourage students to go for sports in a big way. 

In his address, President Punjab Youth Congress Barinder Dhillon lauded the visionary leadership of Captain Amarinder Singh that had brought new levels of distinction to the state. 

Prominent amongst others who were present at the occasion were MLA Khanna Gurkirat Singh Kotli, former Minister Tej Parkash Singh, Chief Principal Secretary to CM Suresh Kumar, Principal Secretary to CM Tejvir Singh and Special Principal Secretary to CM Gurkirat Kirpal Singh.

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