Class 10 Students Suffer as Delhi Govt Puts Teachers on COVID Duty
Teachers say that online classes for 10th grade students have almost stopped ahead of board exams next year.
When the Delhi government roped in teachers for undertaking a door-to-door survey of the COVID-19 situation in the state, Rakesh Gupta (name changed) thought he was only playing the role of a responsible teacher by aiding the administration in detecting and thereby preventing more cases of the virus in the national capital.
However, little did the 40-year-old teacher attached to a west Delhi government school know that the activity would “almost stop online classes for students” many of whom are preparing for the upcoming Class 10 CBSE board exams.
With no permission to take a singe day off from survey duty and barely finding the time and energy for conducting online classes after long hours spent on surveying, Gupta is among the many government school teachers who have not been able to help students with their lessons before their board exams next year.
Not Enough Time for Students
A social science teacher, Gupta has not been able to take frequent online classes for students of Class 10 through Google Classrooms and often finds it difficult to check worksheets that students send him through WhatsApp.
Gupta says that students often come to school looking for him, but return disappointed as he is mostly out. Sometimes, Gupta receives calls from his students in the field, but is often unable to take them as he avoids touching the phone as a precautionary measure, while being out on survey duty.
“I have only been able to conduct online classes once or twice. Sometimes, there are no classes in one whole week. Now, only 50 percent are prepared for boards.”Rakesh Gupta, Delhi Government School Teacher.
Gupta says that the survey work – that begins at 9 am and ends at 5 pm – leaves him with little time to check worksheets sent by students. When worksheets pile up, Gupta is left with no option but to burn the midnight oil, before catching up on some sleep for the next day.
Why Were Teachers Put on COVID-19 Duty?
Around a month back on 19 November, the Delhi government had roped in government and municipal school teachers along with other government officials to screen residents of the national capital for the virus, through a door-to-door survey.
The decision was taken following a meeting between Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Home Minister Amit Shah.
Subsequently, around 15,000 government school teachers and 10,000 municipal school teachers were put on COVID-19 duty in virus-prone areas, where they conducted surveys and assisted government officials in contact tracing.
In the Dark About Student Preparedness
In August this year, Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, also the state’s education minister, had revealed that the Aam Aadmi Party government hasn’t been able to trace around 15 percent of 15 lakh students enrolled across 1,100 government schools in the city.
In addition to this, multiple reports have pointed out the many difficulties faced by Delhi government school children in accessing online classes.
For Class 10 Hindi teacher Nirupam Verma (name changed), the clash between survey work and online classes is nothing like steering two ships at the same time.
“Usually, we follow up with students who don’t respond or send worksheets. But now there’s hardly any time to call students and find out. Although worksheets are being sent, there’s little time to understand if students are actually learning something.”Nirupam Verma.
In Verma’s class too, only around 50 to 60 percent students are prepared to write board exams. While Verma and Gupta have a rough estimate of how far their students are lagging behind, Class 10 Mathematics teacher Preety Singh (name changed) has little information on the preparedness of her students.
“We don’t know to what extent the students are prepared. Although around 80 percent of the syllabus has been completed through worksheets, we are yet to begin revision that gives us a sense of where students are lacking.”Preety Singh
Principals Echo Teachers
Not just teachers, principals of at least three government schools The Quint spoke to mentioned that board preparations for Class 10 have taken a hit due to the survey. While the principals said that in most cases, guest teachers have been assigned as substitutes, they are now having to handle additional classes and are not being able to pay as much attention.
- Guest teachers are being burdened by taking on extra classes
- Regular subject teachers have a sense of connect with regular teachers which is missing in guest teachers
- Regular teachers often call 10 students everyday to follow up. This has not been possible.
Students Left in the Lurch
Class 10 student Samar (name changed) is worried about preparations for boards in subjects like English, Mathematics and Science. He says the lack of tests and assessment is the biggest setback and blames the door-to-door duty for lowering his preparation level to around 65 percent, instead of 85 percent.
“Because of COVID-19 duty, we are not being able to contact teachers. Right now, the school is almost closed and only Hindi classes are happening. Our Math and science syllabus would have been complete and revisions would have begun, had teachers not been held up.”Samar, Class 10 student
Like Samar, a substantial number of students say they are sending worksheets regularly, but their teachers have rarely had the time to check them.
As more teachers express their inability to conduct classes or assist students after a gruelling day of survey work, there is no clarity as to when their COVID-19 duty will come to an end.
(This author had reached out to officials in the Delhi Government’s Education Ministry, but has not received a response at the time of publishing. The story will be updated with their comments if and when they respond.)
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