May 9, 2021 7:27:17 pm
With the entire government machinery diverted towards the battle against Covid-19, and teaching-learning at a complete stop due to early summer vacations, the Delhi education department has not been able to track the whereabouts of its students during the current series of lockdowns in the capital.
The Indian Express has reported about how most government school teachers are currently deployed in various kinds of Covid-related duties — at oxygen refilling centres, vaccination centres and dispensaries, at the airport, at hunger relief centres, doing contact tracing, and so on.
Meanwhile, summer vacation for Delhi schools was also brought forward and began on April 20. It will continue till June 9. The lockdown too was announced in Delhi on April 19 and has subsequently been extended three times.
When the national lockdown was announced last year and the city witnessed a migrant exodus, tracing students became a major concern for the education department. Teachers were asked to try and contact all students, and as the year progressed, all schools were asked to maintain a weekly record of how many students in every class were attending online classes and responding to other online teaching-learning activities.
This year, the escalation of the Covid crisis, the imposition of lockdown and halting of teaching-learning all went hand-in-hand and has led to schools and teachers completely breaking contact with students.
With the entire education department diverted elsewhere, education officials said they have not had the capacity to focus on keeping track of its students – including whether or not their families may have left the city. Director Udit Prakash Rai himself is also Special Secretary Health and Family Welfare and is part of the core team of bureaucrats working on the supply of oxygen to hospitals.
“Teachers as well as officials are either on duty or personally affected by Covid. In the last 20 days or so, there has been no scope to stay in touch with students. It does appear as if the situation is reaching a better point, and if it improves in a few days, we are hoping that in a week or so, we can start focusing on how to reconnect with our students,” said a senior education official.
Last year, one area where schools had difficulty tracing students was when students were transferred from class V in municipal corporation schools to class VI in Delhi government schools. The Indian Express had reported that even in August last year, schools had not been able to get in touch with one in three of the children who were to be transferred. This year, schools have not yet begun the process of contacting these students.
“We have enrolled the children based on the UDISE records that the MCD schools have sent to us but the disruption started before teachers could start contacting them. So it can only start when this situation stabilises. Last year, my school had received accurate contact details of only about 30% of new children from their MCD school.
During the course of the year, by enquiring in the neighbourhoods and during ration distribution, we managed to get in touch with around 60%. I think this year might be more difficult because we’ll have two batches of children — class VI and VII — who have never been to school,” said the head of a government school.
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