Updated: January 23, 2021 5:16:21 am
In Surat and Rajkot, attendance was 58 and 60 per cent, respectively, with Bhavnagar reporting the highest of 71 per cent for Class 12 and 67 per cent for Class 10. Tribal districts of Dahod, Chhota Udepur and Panchmahal still struggles with thin attendance of 31 to 43 per cent.
Among reasons cited for thin attendance, especially in these tribal districts, is migration to other districts, majorly Saurashtra, for livelihood.
“The main source of income in these tribal areas is labour work for which they migrate to cities. Since schools were closed for a long time, students also migrated along with their parents to Saurashtra and other districts, and have not returned yet,” said Kajal Dave, district education officer (DEO) Dahod.
According to Gujarat Secondary and Higher Secondary Education Board (GSHSEB) chairman A J Shah, “From the follow-up from district education officers, due to migration in tribal districts, not many students are attending schools there. We have directed the DEOs to make students return to schools. Also with the announcement of online applications for Class 12 boards opening for science stream and practical exams to be conducted after March 30, we are hoping the attendance will improve.”
On the efforts to convince parents and spread awareness, she added, “We have been organising meeting of all teachers and principals through video-conferencing along with one-on-one meeting with teachers of every taluka. So, now the word on reopening of schools is spreading among parents and we expect the numbers to increase in the coming days. Already it has improved from 26-27 per cent during the initial days of reopening.”
Lack of adequate facilities to follow Covid guidelines in grant-in-aid schools is cited as another reason for thin attendance. “In smaller places such as these tribal districts, there are few self-financed schools compared to grant-in-aid schools that lack facilities to follow social distancing,” said Bharat Gajipara, general secretary of Gujarat Self-Financed Schools Management Federation.
Out of nearly 360 secondary and higher secondary schools in Dahod, 94 are self-financed schools and 228 are grant-in-aid schools, while 37 are government schools. Chhota Udepur that records 39 per cent attendance for Class 10 has only eight self-financed schools against 72 grant-in-aid and 37 government schools.
With over 8,500 members of the federation, all schools have reopened, Gajipara claims, adding that the response from cities is overwhelming where parents are eager to send their wards to schools.
Attributing the highest attendance in the state to regular and strict follow-ups from schools and parents, Bhavnagar DEO NG Vyas said, “All education inspectors and assistant education inspectors visit schools, meet teachers and parents, motivate them. Our office staff have conducted home visits to meet parents and we have been conducting webinar with all schools. We utilised the three days we got after the announcement of reopening to publicise and spread awareness among parents and schools. There is not a single school in the district that has not reopened.”
District education officer of Ahmedabad rural, Rakesh Vyas, said that all schools in the district have reopened. Ahmedabad reports an attendance of 44 and 42 per cent for Class 10 and 12, respectively.
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