February 4, 2021
TED NewsDesk, New Delhi: In a shocking news shared by the education department of Delhi, almost 8.5% of the students of Delhi government and municipal schools are missing from the official registers. This percentage counts up to a worrisome 166,000 number of students. The main reason behind this vanishing act seems to be the most obvious one, theCOVID-19 pandemic which rendered many students helpless on the face of schools starting online education. Many students also had to leave Delhi for their hometowns with their migrant parents.
Most of the missing students belong to schools maintained by the North Delhi Municipal Corporation (NMCD), as per data provided by the the government and civic bodies that maintain the east, south and north Delhi municipal corporations.
The NDMC has been trying to contact these missing students since last few months but to no avail. According to the NDMC education department, almost 20 per cent of the 290,000 students admitted in 714 schools were not able to be contacted. Similarly, in the South, almost 15 per cent of the 284,000 students failed to be contacted in the 581 schools run by the civic bodies. Additionally, almost 20 per cent of the 168,000 students admitted in the east Delhi municipal and government schools were unreachable.
This is a problem rampant in many other countries as well. As per UNICEF more than 460 million children in the world have been unable to use remote learning tools during the lockdown. Many nations have been appealed to check on the condition of the education system post pandemic so as to not force a whole generation of children miss out on education on the backdrop of COVID-19.
Representatives of the Delhi government have stated that most of the children who are missing are those who were admitted to class 6. According to Awadhesh Kumar Jha, head of Sarvodaya Co-ed Vidyalaya (Rohini), “At least 40 students are completely unreachable at our school. Of them, 25 are in class 6. We have taken all possible steps but these children were not found at the addresses mentioned in our records. We got to know from the neighbourhood that these families returned to their villages after the lockdown and have not returned yet.”
Since municipal schools have classes only up to 5, the promoted students have to be admitted to government schools at the beginning of class 6. But this time, the names of the promoted students were sent online by these municipal schools. Commenting on the promotion, one of the principals of the government schools said, “Either the families of these students don’t have mobile phones or they have changed their numbers and did not get the information about the admission of their children in class 6. We are trying to trace such children.”
Most of the younger children, those below class 5, have no one at their addresses and have no other way of contacting. Vibha Singh, principal of a municipal school thinks that they went back with their parents to their villages and hometowns during the quarantine. It is also suspected that many of these students might have been forced to work due to the financial losses of their families, due to which they might have had to leave school.
According to Sanjay Gupta, the director of NGO CHETNA, “Extensive steps need to be taken to trace students who have been pushed into child labour due to financial difficulties wrought by the pandemic. The priorities of parents have also changed amid the financial crises. The switch to online education is also responsible for the situation. There is a possibility of more drop-outs if this situation continues.”
Furthermore, the Delhi government claims to have found almost 97.5 per cent of the students from classes KG to 10. Also, the names of these missing students cannot be struck off from the student rolls as per the Right to Education Act.
“We will continue searching for these students with the help of fellow students and neighbours throughout the year,” added the chairperson of South MCD, Mukesh Suryan.
Although, no one can be blamed for such a situation, one can only hope that the students who are missing return to schools as soon as possible, there has already been so much damage to their education.
Source: Hindustan Times