Sanskriti School in Chanakyapuri has submitted before the Delhi High Court that it is the “duty” of the Centre and Delhi government to provide equipment to economically weaker section (EWS) or disadvantaged group category students, enabling them to attend online classes.
The school said this in an affidavit filed in the High Court. It is among the 15 schools issued a showcause notice by the Delhi government’s Directorate of Education (DoE) for not providing free laptops/ iPad/phones with high speed internet to students from these categories.
The school also submitted that due to the circular from the Delhi government’s Directorate of Education (DoE) to only charge tuition fee, schools have “severe restrictions on their cash flow, while most of the expenditure is continuing”.
“Directing them (the school) to purchase video conferencing equipment for several students, while restraining their ability to collect fees and raise funding, would be impractical and illogical,” the affidavit said.
The school, however, claimed in its affidavit that they have a mechanism in place — creating “WhatsApp groups for EWS category students, creating special videos for them to clarify their doubts, and taking regular feedback from students as well as teachers to ensure doubt removal”.
“… Constant efforts are made by teachers, counsellors and representatives of the school to reach out to students and their parents through phone calls, emails and WhatsApp groups,” the affidavit said.
The DoE, however, has stated that it is binding on all private unaided recognised schools to ensure that students from the EWS or disadvantaged groups are not “deprived” of online classes.
The court was hearing 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.
Hearing the plea, the court on May 8 had sought replies from the Centre, Delhi government, New Delhi Municipal Council, MCDs and 10 private unaided schools.
Responding to the same, Sanskriti School said that “it is today well settled that the financial burden arising out of the requirements of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009, is to be borne exclusively by the State and Central governments.”
The affidavit stated that the school “maintains impeccably high standards of education, and goes above and beyond the minimum mandate of the law to ensure that no child is left behind”.
They claimed that they are even extending help to students of classes IX to XII.
“At this stage, these efforts have resulted in 90 % regular attendance of EWS children during the online classes, and as mentioned previously, each class is being recorded for later viewing and peers are reaching out over the phone…,” the affidavit added.
It further submitted that “it is also important to remember that even during ordinary times, when there is no lockdown, schools rarely have 100% attendance due to varying reasons. In the present times, many of the parents may have gone back to their villages due to the ongoing migrant crisis…”
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 across challenges such as no laptops and smartphones as well as no internet connection.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines