To help as many children as possible get into school, amid a difficult year for schooling due to the pandemic, school management committees (SMCs) in some parts of Delhi are going door-to-door to find parents who want to admit their children to government schools this year.
Fresh admissions to Delhi government schools for classes VI to XII has been a long-delayed process this time, beginning only at the end of August. In normal years, this process begins in April. With the application process having gone completely online this year, there have been fears that it might not be accessible and understandable to many parents of potential students. The deadline to submit forms for children up to class IX is September 9, while applications for class X-XII will continue for a few more days.
This is where SMCs and social workers have stepped in, going to working-class localities in some areas to make parents aware that the admission process is finally underway and to explain how it works.
“Kya is ghar mein koi bachcha hai jo school nahi jaata hai? Ya jiska admission aap sarkari school mein karwana chahte ho (Is there any child in this house who does not go to school? Or who you would like to enroll in a government school?)” asked Kamla Arya, knocking on the doors of houses in the narrow gullies of Sangam Vihar’s H-Block. Her own children study in a government school in Tughlaqabad Extension, and she is a member of the SMC there.
A team of two parents and two social workers carefully distributed gullies and houses between them to make sure that they ask at each door.
In one gully, they found Seema Devi, whose daughter studies in class VIII in a private school but who she wants to transfer to a government school. “The studies there are not satisfactory. It is such a small school. There is only one other student in class VIII there, and no studies have been happening during the lockdown. It’s not worth spending money on at this time,” she said.
Sapna, a parent and SMC member of a government school in Sangam Vihar, saved Seema’s number on her phone and sent her the online application form on WhatsApp, explained the process to her and told her the documents she needs.
“This is happening in around 45-50 Vidhan Sabha constituencies. In some, there are just one or two people doing this by themselves, but there are strong teams in areas like Sangam Vihar, Kalkaji, Rohtas Nagar, Burari and Timarpur. Every year, there is a lot more time to work on helping people through admissions. But this year, there are only 10 days to apply so it was very urgent. This is why the SMCs are going all out. Many parents are not visiting schools to find out about admissions because of the Covid situation, many are not comfortable enough with technology, some might not even be in Delhi… but there are many looking to admit their children to government schools this year,” said Shailesh Srivastava, member of the SMC central team.
At Kalkaji, SMC members of 14 schools visit colonies and jhuggi areas every day. “We should have maximum coverage and reach people on the ground. Many who have shown interest are those who can’t afford private school fees anymore but were not aware that application forms are available. We are also giving out our personal numbers to those interested so that they can call us later if they need any help in filling forms,” said Raj Kumar, an SMC member of a school in the area.
Even in areas where community outreach is not happening, help desks have been set up in all schools to assist parents. “If parents do not have internet facilities, our teachers and SMC members at the desk are filling up forms for them. We are seeing not less than 20-30 parents visit the school per day. But since admissions are only happening for class VI and above, many parents are also coming to enquire about admissions to lower classes, for which there has been no notification yet,” said Awadhesh Jha, principal of a government school in Rohini.
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