COVID, Board Prep: Why Delhi Schools Are Seeing Low Attendance
According to the Delhi government, attendance in schools run by it stood at 52.1 percent on 3 February 2021.
Over two weeks after the schools in the national capital reopened their doors for students of Class 10 and 12, attendance in both private and public schools have gradually increased to above 50 percent in both classes, principals of various schools in Delhi told The Quint.
While there is no comprehensive data available on private schools, the Delhi government reported 52.1 percent attendance as of 3 February 2021.
While an attendance above 50 percent is a step towards restoration of a normal classroom environment, what the number also means is that less that atleast 40 percent students are still not attending classes.
The Quint spoke to some of these students in the absentee category, to understand why have they not been able to attend physical classes, even as board exams are just a few months away.
Parents Still Scared of COVID-19
Class 12 student Himani is convinced that her privately-held school in North East Delhi has taken all measures possible to prevent the spread of coronavirus, but her parents are still not 100 percent sure and want to avoid any risk.
“Actually, I was ready to go but my parents did not allow as they are not sure and I have to give boards this year. The only thing is that I am not able to catch up with my peers and understand how they are preparing and how I should align my strategy.”Himani, Class 12 Student.
Himani’s mother Seema, who’s a homemaker, agrees that the school has taken all precautions, but fears that since her daughter’s “immunity power is low, the family has collectively decided not to send her.”
Pawan Kant, the father of a Class 12 student at a different school, says that although schools have reopened after a very long time, he too, has not sent his son for offline classes as a “precautionary measure.”
Board Preparation, Transport Keep Students Away from Schools
While safety remained the prime concern for many, others cite preparations for board exams as the only reason for staying away from offline classes.
Class 12 student Chirag, who goes to a school in Northwest Delhi, says that the remaining months before board exams are, according to him, the best time to prepare for board exams.
“Earlier, we had to attend online classes and didn’t have much time for self-study. Apart from self-study, we can also revise some model and sample papers before exams.”Chirag, Class 12 student.
Another parent of a Class 10 student said that she is only sending her child to school only for important subjects like Maths, because the family doesn’t want to afford the risk of sending children to school using public transport, in the absence of school buses.
Too Used to ‘Laid-Back’ Home Environment
Mallika Preman, Principal of Tagore International School, East of Kailash, says that although maximum number of children have been coming for practical classes, the attendance for regular classes where students come to clear doubts is less.
“Although schools have taken all precautions and are preparing all SOPs, many students are staying away from regular classes due to fear, mostly felt by parents. Others have decided to devote more time to board exams and are studying at home.”Mallika Preman, Tagore International School.
At Mount Carmel school in Anand Niketan, which reopened for physical classes on 1 February, not a single student has turned up in Class 12, while only about 10 percent students showed up in Class 10, said Principal Roma Naomi Das.
A Class 12 student of the school said there were two reasons for such absence – fear of the coronavirus and a sense of comfort attached to offline classes from home.
“While fear is the primary reason, many students got used to the security of offline classes at home, where it is more of a laid-back experience. For physical classes, one has to get up early, get dressed and go to school.”A class 12 student.
Most Absentees in Govt Schools Outside Delhi
Delhi government school teacher Sant Ram said that although attendance is improving in schools, students who are not coming for offline classes are those who are not in town or cannot afford to travel as result of economic loss to their families. caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Another Delhi government school principal, who did not wish to be named said that although attendance has increased to 80 percent in Class 10 and 60 percent in Class 12, many among those absent have left the capital.
The principal also shared that one student of Class 12 had been married off by her parents, during the pandemic and has left her studies.
The low attendance in Delhi schools come amid preparations by CBSE to conduct board exams from May to June.
While Class 10 board exams conducted by CBSE will begin on 4 May and conclude on 7 June, exams for Class 12 will begin on 4 May and end on 11 June.
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