'Online Education is for Equipped Families, not Poor'
Updated: Oct 12, 2022
Q: Were you involved in any COVID-related tasks given by the authorities beyond learning activities? If yes, are they now over or have they changed?
Headmaster: Yes, I was going to the school and keeping track of migrants coming from outside. My school was not converted into a quarantine centre so my duty was mostly in other schools. I was also involved in the enrollment drive for the children of migrants. We have made efforts to make government schemes accessible to the migrants as well.
Q: Did you go to school during the period of April to June regularly? If yes, what were your main tasks during that period?
Headmaster: I was motivating students to watch the educational programmes on Doordarshan. I was also involved in linking bank accounts for Direct Benefit Transfers. The plan is to transfer a sum of money to the children's account for Mid Day Meals (MDM). We are uploading data for this.
Q: Are there any challenges you have faced with the distribution of money for MDM?
Headmaster: The children of my school have not received money yet. The Block has instructed us to make a list of the children who had registered 75 per cent attendance. Their parents will be provided with dry ration.
But, even as we know the parents, amid COVID-19 it has become challenging to distribute ration to them. There is pressure from them on us.
Q: Do you have ICT tools available with you to reach out to students? What are these? Are they provided by the government?
Headmaster: The government has not provided us any ICT tools. The children of my school do not have any such facility, and 80 per cent of them belong to the Musahar, Scheduled Caste communities. Their parents work in the field and they do not have any information about this.
Online education is only for families that are equipped with television and mobile phones, and know how to use these.
I believe that nothing has been done for the education of children since March.
Q: Have you received any training on teaching during the pandemic period?
Headmaster: I have been trained via online means and given information on how to work in this situation.
This interview was conducted with a Headmaster in Vaishali, Bihar in Hindi on 13 July 2020, and has been translated.