Parent-teacher meetings were held across 1,000 government schools in Delhi on Saturday. For many of them, it was their first experience of an interaction that is routine in most educational institutions.
Attendance was high — to the joy of the Aam Aadmi Party government that organised the event. Parents turned up despite the heavy rain, many of them skipping work for the special day.
Catering to 16,00,000 students, these schools are categorised as Rajkiya Pratibha Vikas Vidyalayas (17), Sarvodaya Vidyalayas (686) and government / girls / boys senior secondary schools (297).
The first two hold PTMs every few months but attendance is usually thin. This year, 90-95% of parents turned up, said the Directorate of Education.
In the senior secondary schools that were hosting parents for the first time, attendance was between 65% and 70%.
‘Red carpet’ for parents
Rakesh Maurya, who has two daughters at the Government Girls Senior Secondary School in northeast Delhi’s Sonia Vihar, said, “I rarely get time to help them with their studies. Such meetings will help me know where they stand. The only thing that matters is a good education for my girls.” First-timer Mohammad Akram, whose daughter is in Class 7 in the same school, said, “I was told my daughter comes late for classes and I also saw her marks. Now I know where I need to help her.”
The teachers, too, said they were now better informed about students’ backgrounds and problems. The schools made a special effort. Some rolled out the red carpet, others welcomed the parents with tilak, hand-made cards and banners. The tea and biscuits on offer were a hit.
Parents were given a copy of a letter from deputy chief minister and education minister Manish Sisodia listing the government’s achievements and its vision for improving education in Delhi.
Sisodia promised to organise such an event twice every year, saying, “I visited a lot of schools and there is enthusiasm among parents. We will continue this effort so that the quality of education improves in government school.”
Room for improvement
And there is room for improvement, as the event exposed the schools’ infrastructural inadequacies. Despite staggered timings for better crowd management, parents in some schools had to line up on playgrounds for lack of space.
The government — which had publicised the event on radio, social media and through door-to-door messages — called the event a win-win for parents and teachers.
But a section of the Government School Teachers Association called it a “flop show”. Its president CP Singh said, “The teachers were busy deciding who will serve tea instead of focusing on teaching. Why call it a mega event when PTMs are being held in schools every quarter since last year?”
Ravinder Malik, a parent at Veer Savarkar Sarvodaya Kanya Vidyalaya in south Delhi’s Kalkaji, said, “It was not surprising for me to attend a parent-teacher meeting in a government school. The management has held such meetings in the past. The only difference was that all schools across Delhi were involved.”
(Inputs from Sohil Sehran )