Some took leave from work, others nervously looked at their watch. But all made sure they met the teachers.
Thousands of parents trooped into government schools across the Capital on Saturday morning, talking to teachers and discussing ways to improve their children’s academic performance, the first such exercise in the city.
Many beaming parents said such parent-teacher meetings should become a regular exercise. Some saw their children’s report cards and attendance registers for the first time.
“I rarely get time from work to help my children in studies. Such meets will help me know where my children stand. For us the only thing is our children should get good education,” said Rakesh Maurya, whose two daughters study at Government Girls Senior Secondary School in northeast Delhi’s Soniya Vihar.
India’s school education system is in crisis, studies show, with a third of children enrolled dropping out before Class 10 and half of all students between Class 3 and 5 unable to do basic maths.
State-run schools are often considered worse than their private counterparts because of poor infrastructure, inadequate teacher strength to deal with massive student numbers and overworked parents who don’t have enough time to monitor their children’s studies.
The Aam Aadmi Party administration’s parent-teacher meeting exercise is aimed at plugging this gap in government schools, which are crucial to improving learning standards because they cater to huge chunks of the population who cannot afford private institutions.
“Now I know where my child stands so I am going to take special care. Even though I have not studied I will send her for tuition now,” said Rajbeti Sharma, a parent.
Many parents also talked about the lack of infrastructure – such as drinking water facilities -- in schools.
“My daughter complains about the lack of proper drinking water and toilet so I told this to the class teacher,” said Vinod Kumar, a parent. His daughter studies on class 10 at the Soniya Vihar school. It was the first time that such a meeting was held in the school.
Many schools shifted their schedules, divided roll numbers and allotted specific timeslots to parents, in order to avoid overcrowding.
Other institutions rolled out the red carpet with large welcome boards, decorations and a serving of tea and biscuits.
The Sarvodaya Kanya Vidyalaya in Yamuna Vihar had students of senior classes as volunteers taking parents to different classes.
The exercise also pleased the teachers, who said they were now better informed about a student’s background and specific problems with studies.
“One parent told me her daughter is irregular because she takes care of the house as her mother is frequently unwell. I explained to her that she cannot make her child stay at home as she was in Class 10,” said Suman Gupta, a science teacher at Sarvodaya Kanya Vidyalaya in Yamuna Vihar.