Updated: May 6
Q. What steps have been taken by the government to maintain COVID-19 appropriate behaviour in the schools of your Block?
Block Resource Person (BRP): From the government’s side, masks have been distributed among the children. We have also received instructions to maintain social distancing, cleanliness, daily thermal screenings, among other things. But we have not received any funds for the same, because of which this is not being followed in schools.
Q. What kind of funds or infrastructure have been provided to the schools in your Block for efficient functioning? Are schools facing any difficulties in implementing COVID-19 protocols?
BRP: Even the funds that were already in the schools’ accounts had to be returned to the district. That is the reason schools have zero balance now. Some of the head masters are spending their own money for things they feel are necessary for the school. That's how the schools are running.
There is no arrangement in school for thermal screening and handwash. There are no provisions for testing of children, the students come to school, and sit together and play. The teachers are also scared.
Q. Has there been any change in the enrollment numbers of students?
BRP: Yes, there have been changes in the enrollment numbers. Time and again, we have received instructions from the state in regards to enrollments. There was a campaign for the same as well. Students are also enrolling through the BEST app, which we also use for attendance and monitoring purposes.
The enrollments have increased, but there are deficits in attendance. It is harvest season, which is one of the reasons for the same. Also, students are not coming to school because no mid-day meal is being served at the moment.
Q. Have you noticed any difference in learning levels? If yes, what measures are being taken to cover the deficit?
BRP: Yes, there are differences in the learning levels of children. But no assessment has been done to measure the same.
A catch-up course of 3 months was taught when the schools had reopened, in which the students were taught their previous syllabi. But it is difficult to say how many children benefited from this, because not everyone had books. The parents of most children who study at our school are not able to pay attention to their child’s studies due to work. We have tried at our end, but the results have not been satisfactory.
Q. Have the teachers been provided with any training related to learning?
BRP: Teachers have been provided the NISHTHA training which has five modules. In the training, the focus is on teaching language, maths and social sciences to students. The teachers need to complete it by 31 December 2021.
Apart from this, Non-Residential Special Training (NRST) was provided for four days. The purpose of the same is to connect out-of-school children and dropouts to the school and increase enrollment. Along with this, three days of offline training was also provided in March.
This interview was conducted with a Block Resource Person in Bihar in Hindi on 24 December 2021, and has been translated.