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‘Dry Ration being Provided in lieu of Mid-Day Meals’

Updated: Oct 18, 2022

Q. Has there been a change in student enrollment as well as attendance?

Headmaster (HM): There has been a lot of discontinuity in education ever since the COVID-19 pandemic started. In such a situation, parents are preferring government schools over private schools. We were also asked to increase enrollment by the government by conducting door-to-door campaigns.

But children are not coming to school regularly like before and because of this, we have to constantly call their parents or go to their homes.

Q. Since children have physically come to school after a long time, is there a difference in their learning levels? Are remedial steps being taken?

HM: There is no doubt that the learning levels of children have been affected in the last two years. The children who were in Class 2 in March 2020 have dropped to the level of Class 1 students today, even though they should be in Class 4 right now. We are trying to improve the learning levels of such children by forming study groups.

Q. What kind of challenges are you facing in operating the school? Have there been any difficulties in distributing mid-day meals to the children?

HM: I am not facing any particular problems. For mid-day meals, we are distributing a ‘combo pack’ of dry ration to the children. The pack contains, chana dal, moong chilka dal, oil (soybean oil), coriander powder, chili powder, turmeric powder, salt and cumin. We have to distribute it on a specific day in the month, which has eased our workload.

Q. What have been your duties and responsibilities since the reopening of schools during the COVID-19 pandemic?

HM: The government had issued orders to reopen schools at full capacity from 15 November 2021. During this time, we have been encouraging parents to send their wards to schools regularly. We have also been sending online resources to the children who are still not able to come to school. In addition, we are making efforts to spread awareness about vaccinating children who are 15 to 18 years old.

Q. Have you received any instructions from the government on how classroom teaching must be done now?

HM: Yes, we received instructions from the government. We were also provided with workbooks which included a fixed timetable for the children. We are using these to improve the learning levels of the students according to their classes. Apart from this, we are spending extra time with the children in the learning groups.

Q. Have you received any kind of teacher training to address these challenges?

HM: Yes, we are completing the online NISHTHA (National Initiative for School Heads’ and Teachers’ Holistic Advancement) training through the DIKSHA (Digital Infrastructure for School Education) app. The training has content for Classes 1 to 12 which needs to be completed in 6 months. We have not received any other training apart from this.

Q. Has your school received annual grants in the last two years? Along with this, have you received separate funds to reopen the school or for the COVID-19 friendly classroom assessment?

HM: Recently, the school received Rs. 75,000 under the ‘Composite School Grant’ (CSG) for repair work; drinking water facility; sanitation; necessary materials for school like chalk, dusters, stationery blackboard repairs, etc.

The school has received about Rs. 150 per teacher for Teaching-Learning Materials (TLM).

Q. How is COVID-19 appropriate behaviour being taken care of in the school? Have you received any precautionary supplies like masks and sanitisers from the government?

HM: We are taking care of COVID-19 appropriate behavior at every step. When the children come to the school, along with ensuring that they are wearing a mask, we also sanitise their hands before they enter the school. Whenever we see symptoms, we direct them to consult a doctor immediately. Same rules apply for the teachers as well.

We have not received supplies such as masks and sanitisers from the government.

This interview was conducted with a Headmaster in Jodhpur, Rajasthan in Hindi on 5 January 2022, and has been translated.

Due to the rise in COVID-19 cases, the Rajasthan government closed schools for Classes 1 to 8 in Jaipur and Jodhpur municipal areas till 17 January 2022.

Source: DBTH / Don't Believe The Hype on Unsplash

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