Only half of all enrolled students in schools run by Mumbai’s civic administration have remained connected with their studies during the lockdown, according to a new report from the Brihanmunbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) education department, whose findings confirm concerns about the accessibility and effectiveness of online teaching.
The findings also confirm fears that the exodus of migrant workers from Mumbai to their home states would adversely impact their children’s education, and is likely to lead to a large number of dropouts. The report stated that 28.12 per cent students (60,188) or nearly a third of the children studying in the schools that have classes from I to VIII, have migrated from the city.
Of the 33,403 students in schools with classes IX and X, 8,143 have migrated. At 24.38 per cent, that is nearly a quarter of the students in these schools.
An official said, “We have begun online admissions but the enrollment has reduced by half. We expect more students to join once we begin classes. However, there is an estimate that nearly 30 per cent students will be lost due to the impact of Covid-19 pandemic on families.”
Out of a total strength of 2,14,062 students studying in schools that have classes I to VIII, only 1,00,049 (46.74 per cent) have remained connected to studies through various online learning initiatives that were begun by the department as well as the state government.
During the lockdown period, all BMC teachers were directed to keep the students engaged by assigning them learning and activity tasks through WhatsApp groups and YouTube channels among others.
Students were also urged to make use of Diksha app, developed by by National Council of Teacher Education, which offers chapter-wise content and activities for each class.
Of all the students in schools having classes till X, just over half – 50.28 per cent – have smart phones. While BMC has 966 schools that have classes from I to VIII, 223 schools have classes from I to X. In schools with classes from I to VIII, 2,14062 students are enrolled with BMC, while schools having classes till X have 33,403 students.
In a sign of the reality of the digital divide, the department report also showed that only 25.35 per cent students in schools having classes I to VIII made use of the Diksha app. Only 47.78 per cent students are smart phone users.
Among classes IX and X students, 42.73 per cent students have made use of Diksha app, whereas only 50.28 per cent are smart phone users.
Apart from its own schools, 1,074 private schools are affiliated to BMC. In contrast to BMC’s own schools, 88.23 per cent students in BMC-affiliated schools remained in touch with their studies. Of 2,94,415 students in these private schools, 68.78 per cent are smart phone users and 15.94 per cent have reportedly migrated from Mumbai. As many as 57.76 per cent of these students are said to be Diksha app users.
School Education Minister Varsha Gaikwad had said that the department plans to teach out to migrated students through the medium of television. While the state runs educational programmes through DD Sahyadri, it has sought for its own personal channel from the Centre. Community radio is also being worked upon as an option, the minister had said.
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