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15 Delhi schools get showcause for not helping EWS students go online

Amid the pandemic, all schools have moved their classrooms to the virtual space. However, as reported by The Indian Express, EWS students in private schools have come up against challenges such as no laptops and smartphones as well as no internet connection at home.

Written by Pritam Pal Singh | New Delhi | Updated: May 24, 2020 1:54:45 pm
delhi lockdown, delhi lockdown schools, delhi schools online classes, delhi ews schools online classes, delhi city news The DoE has issued notices to the schools. (Express archive)

The Delhi government’s education department has said before the Delhi High Court that it is binding on all private unaided recognised schools in the city to ensure that students from the economically weaker section (EWS) or disadvantaged groups (DG) are not “deprived” of online classes. The Directorate of Education (DoE) also told the court that they have issued showcause notices to 15 private schools for not providing free laptops/ iPad/phones with high speed internet to students from these categories.

Amid the pandemic, all schools have moved their classrooms to the virtual space. However, as reported by The Indian Express, EWS students in private schools have come up against challenges such as no laptops and smartphones as well as no internet connection at home.

Delhi government’s Standing Counsel Ramesh Singh filed the counter affidavit for the DoE, stating: “DoE has issued showcause notice to the schools as to why cent per cent compliance has not been met and how the said schools are complying with the May 29 circular in letter in spirit.”

The DoE’s response comes against the backdrop of a plea by an NGO, Justice for All, which sought to provide free laptops, tablets, phones to EWS children so they can access online classes.

The NGO, in its plea filed through advocate Khagesh Jha, said private unaided schools’ decision to conduct classes via video conferencing would affect over 50,000 EWS students, many of whom cannot afford laptops, phones and high-speed internet.

A bench of Justice Manmohan and Justice Sanjeev Narula had on May 8 sought replies from the Centre, Delhi government, New Delhi Municipal Council, MCDs and 10 private unaided schools.

The DoE, in its counter affidavit, said it had on April 29 issued a circular to all private unaided recognised schools about this: “In no case any EWS/DG/CWSN (children with special needs) category students shall be deprived from online classes/learning material and shall ensure the same in the similar manner as being provided to general category students.”

It also asked students to “ascertain” if any of these students are “not able to avail of the aforesaid online facility”.

“If the reason for the above shortcoming is on account of lack of equipment like laptop, desktop, smartphone or internet facility, then the school is to provide and/or ensure that such facility is made available till the education of such schools is being imparted through online means,” the affidavit reads.

It said that under the Right to Education Act, it is the obligation of private unaided school to provide all facilities to EWS/DG category students.

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