One in three students who were supposed to join class VI in Delhi government schools this year have not done so yet, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said. Government schools ‘reopened’ remotely in July. Classes are conducted online and assignments given either through WhatsApp or text messages. Several children, however, have neither joined a single class nor got in touch with the school since the lockdown.
“In Class VI, children from municipal schools join Delhi government schools. We are seeing a significant gap here. Around 30%-35% of the children haven’t joined. The details of these students come to us from the corporations. In most cases, either a single phone number is available or an incomplete address. We have seen this pattern in at least 7-8 districts,” he said.
In other grades, Sisodia said, 10%-15% of the students had not joined online classes: “In each class, 5-6 students have not been able to join. Efforts are being made to reach out to them.”
In Delhi, municipal corporations are allowed to run schools up till class V. While Delhi government also has schools with primary sections, most of their schools start from Class VI. Over the past few years, the transition between municipal and government schools has been smooth as details and documents are sent from one administration to the other. But coronavirus and the lockdown this year has brought unprecedented problems.
According to officials, over 1 lakh children move from municipal schools to Delhi government schools each year. While the transfer has happened on paper, what remains highly uneven is the contacting and induction of these new students.
“According to directions I have been given, I have done the admission of each child on my computer after collecting their school-leaving certificates. However, we have not reached out to the students. This is difficult as we don’t know them or their parents individually. There are 382 children who are supposed to join my school. I have given books for the new academic year to parents who had come to enquire about new admissions but this is far less than even 100 students. I think we will only be in touch with the rest after school opens and everyone comes,” said the head of a government school in Outer Delhi.
The head of a school in East Delhi said: “It is a little worrisome since we don’t want these children to slip through the net between class V and VI. Usually, new parents come to the school at the time of admission and we update information from them at the time. This time, the only we way can contact them is through the data we have received from MCD schools and UDISE database — sadly, the info is patchy. Many numbers are either not listed or functional. When some parents had come to the school to enquire, we told them to spread the word in the clusters they live in that new students should come and collect their books. But only 86 of the 270 new students in our school have received books.”
Sisodia said in case senior students, who teachers know, live in areas where the Class VI students also live, they are being asked to reach out: “School Management Committee members are also being asked to find out the whereabouts of these children.”
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