September 18, 2021 8:02:59 pm
A pre-emptive system to try and identify children in distress by tracking their school attendance is in the process of being rolled out in Delhi government schools.
Since September 1, students of classes IX to XII in Delhi have been permitted to attend school physically on a voluntary basis and at 50% classroom capacity. With this limited re-opening, the Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights is working to implement an ‘Early Warning System’ in government schools — a technology-based system which aims to track student attendance to identify children at risk and in distress.
The commission has identified that there are a few reasons which are largely responsible for sustained absence from school — child labour, begging, substance abuse, parental incarceration, parental death, disability, medical issues, and getting involved in
“There are circumstances because of which a parent may not be able to send their child to school but no parent deliberately wants to deprive their child of education… For instance, there might be a child who is absent for 4 days, then 7 days, then 18 days, and then goes on to become a drop-out, and it turns out that the child had lost their father. The child and the family needed help in those days, but we didn’t act on the earliest warning and failed to support the child. The earliest warnings have to be identified to help children effectively and attendance is the best indicator of child distress,” said DCPCR chairman Anurag Kundu.
The ‘Early Warning System’, designed by the DoE’s IT department and the child commission, is linked to school attendance records.
If a child is absent for more than seven days in a row or has less than 33% attendance overall, an automated SMS will be sent to the child’s guardian. If there is no response to this after a few days, an IVRS message will be sent. After a few days, the teacher is to call and try to identify the problem and log in the issue into the system if identified. The last step is a home visit by the school management committee, and if the child cannot be found, they are identified as high-risk and the mechanism of the DCPCR and the District Child Protection Unit will be activated.
Given that attendance is voluntary now, if a teacher finds that absence is because of Covid-safety concerns, no alarm will be raised. Currently, heads of schools are being oriented about the system and implementation is expected next month.
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