Riding on wheels of change
Chandigarh April 25:
As announced in the Budget, the Punjab Government is all set to provide specially designed coloured bicycles to 1.2 lakh Class XI and XII girl students in government schools. The Rs 75-crore scheme named Mai Bhago Vidya Scheme will be implemented after the summer vacations this year.
The scheme was finalised by Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Badal prior to his departure for China last week. Chief Secretary SC Aggarwal will finalise the cycle design. The Industries Department has been asked to shortlist all bicycle manufacturers and ask them to submit a theme-based design.
“We want to achieve the dual purpose of facilitating education as well as spreading gender awareness”, an official said. The design will be approved by Sukhbir Badal on his return from the foreign trip. The aim of the scheme is primarily to encourage girls to continue their studies, even if their schools are at some distance from their homes.
The district education officers will be the overall in charge of the scheme that will be implemented constituency-wise. The bicycles will be in special colours to make these distinct from other ones in the market. There were an estimated 1.16 lakh girl students in Class XI and XII in various government schools last year. “We hope the scheme will have a trickle down effect that will help bring more girls to schools and institutions of higher learning”, a senior official of the education department said.
Similar schemes have been implemented in other states ruled by NDA allies. Karnataka gives away bicycles worth Rs 23 crore each year while Bihar spent Rs 174.36 crore on cycles for 8,71,000 schoolgirls last year. The West Bengal CM gave away 47,000 cycles to Class VIII girls prior to the elections last month. The Orissa government has given bicycles to 1.16 lakh girl students in Class X.