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'Student Absenteeism is Making Our Work Difficult'

Updated: Oct 18, 2022

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

Assistant Teacher: Yes, enrollment has increased. Many children who used to study in private schools have joined our school now but only around half of the enrolled students attend classes. Mid-day meals are also not being distributed. Many of the children are working the fields with their parents during the season.

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

Assistant Teacher: Children have surely become very mischievous! We are trying to teach the younger students through activities. Children who are finding it challenging to keep up are seated with children who can help them with their studies. But students come for one day and then go absent, this makes our work very difficult.

Q. How is the learning gap being filled for students who were not able to attend online classes before the reopening of schools?

Assistant Teacher: Many students were not able to study online but we also do not have any

resources to fill that gap. For this, we taught them for three months under the catch-up course only.

Q. What kind of challenges are you facing in operating the school?

Assistant Teacher: The year is about to end, and only 3 of the 10 teachers are running the entire school since teachers are either on training or on leave. We try to manage one class and another starts making a ruckus somewhere else! Also, the children do not wear a mask when coming to school and they do not pay heed to us when we ask them to do the same.

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

Assistant Teacher: After the school reopened, we received a notice that all the children have to be taught the syllabus from their previous class for the next three months. This has been named the ‘Catch-Up’ course, and the older syllabus had to be finished within this timeframe. But nothing of this sort happened, as children did not have textbooks.

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

Assistant Teacher: Yes, I received the NISHTHA (National Initiative for School Heads’ and Teachers’ Holistic Advancement) training. The training is based on Mathematics, language, and Social Sciences.

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?

Assistant Teacher: We just receive instructions from the government. When the school reopened in April, two masks were given to all the children. After that the school was closed again. But when the school reopened for a second time, nothing was given; no mask, no sanitiser, no handwash. Absolutely nothing! We have not received anything for at least the last four months.

This interview was conducted with an Assistant Teacher in Patna, Bihar in Hindi on 23 December 2021, and has been translated.

In January 2022, due to a surge in COVID-19 cases in Bihar, schools were instructed to physically close for classes 1 to 8th once again.

Source: The Indian Express

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