School for scandal: Reality of ‘Delhi model’ schools
Guest and contractual teachers run most of schools as over 50 per cent of the teachers’ posts lie vacant. The CM and AAP Govt have been accused of having stopped mid-day meal scheme in Delhi schools
Ahead of the polling in Punjab, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal took out full page advertisements with photographs of smart classrooms with ‘state of art’ technology. He claimed to have ‘inaugurated’ the 12,430 model classrooms and claimed with his characteristic modesty that they were equal to opening 250 schools.
Significantly, in those ads, there were no students to be seen. It would surely have looked nicer with children.
This was followed by Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia’s statement that the government would start Delhi’s first Armed Forces Preparatory School to prepare children for entry into NDA. This is part of the initiative covered by its Rs. 98 crore Deshbhakti Budget in 2021. Deshbhakti however would be limited only to people of Delhi as only residents of Delhi would be allowed admission in these schools.
Earlier the Kejriwal-led AAP government had decided to restrict admissions to Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital to only residents of Delhi but the move was struck down by the judiciary after noted activist and Supreme Court lawyer Ashok Aggarwal challenged it in court.
But the chief minister and the AAP Government, which claims to be spending a phenomenal percentage of its budget on education has been accused by Delhi Rozi Roti Adhikar Abhiyan of having stopped mid-day meal scheme in Delhi schools despite Supreme Court’s order that the meal is an essential part of the Right to Education.
Ashok Aggarwal maintains that the so-called ‘Delhi Model’ of education was actually a non-starter because it left over 20 lakh children, who were either drop-outs, from marginalised sections or deprived, in the lurch.
“The system they are promoting in Delhi schools is totally discriminatory because on the one hand they have schools of excellence and Rashtriya Pratibha schools where they get the best teachers to teach students; while in the remaining schools there are 50 percent vacancies. This also goes against Articles 14 and 21 that ensure education to all without discrimination,” says Aggarwal.
He also disputes the claim that government schools are doing very well by giving the example of one particular school where 56 out of 62 girls failed.
Aggarwal is most disturbed that there are so many different kind of school systems being run in Delhi and there is no standard level of excellence for children as has been mandated by several commissions including one which he headed.
Anil Chaudhary, president of Delhi Congress unit says, “I don’t know how this education system is the best in the country. The number of students is 15,000 fewer than during the tenure of Shiela Dikshit. There are no new admissions, no new appointment of teachers and there are 50 percent vacancies; what is model about it?” he wonders.
“The pass percentage of students has gone down by 28 per cent and 1.25 lakh students have dropped out. When this government came to power it promised that it would start 500 new schools and 20 new colleges. But despite land being available they have been able to start only seven schools in its seven years of existence,” he alleges.
Talking about the new classrooms, Vijender Gupta leader of BJP in Delhi Assembly said “There are only cosmetic changes. These classrooms have been created without requisition, without sanction, without passing of maps and at highly inflated costs. I believe these class rooms have been constructed only to raise funds for the elections. Many of these rooms are locked and are only show pieces.”
Both Aggarwal and Gupta also alleged that in the process of creating new state-ofthe-art classrooms they have destroyed playgrounds which were always integral to schools.
The Kejriwal government is priding itself on reports that children from public schools are joining government schools. But there is a catch.
True, there was a news item that 1.5 lakh students from private schools had joined government schools but the second para stated that the reason for this was that the economic situation of parents had worsened so much during the pandemic that they could not afford the fees of their children.
Says a teacher in Delhi, in the profession for 30 years, on condition of anonymity, “Let me tell you something. Getting admission to government schools is not easy. There is no role of the principal or any other staff in this. All admissions have to be cleared by the Directorate of Education and they are always under pressure from MLAs and ministers where as you know AAP dominates.”
When Kapil Sibal was Minister for HRD he had suggested that there should be no quota for MPs or MLAs in admission to Central Schools. But within a few months he had to withdraw this because of pressure from every political party in the country.
(This was first published in National Herald on Sunday)
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