Thousands of students and teachers from the city — some from schools and some from their homes — tuned in to catch Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Teachers’ Day speech on Friday.
A large number of private schools in Delhi made attendance to the speech optional. However, in government schools, the timings were tweaked to incorporate the speech, which lasted from 3pm to 4.50pm.
Though, some students were irritated, visibly so, at having been made to stay in school during unusual hours, most of them appeared excited and wanted to know what the PM had to say to them.
“I think it was a great idea! We usually would have prepared a dance or song performance for our teachers but this is refreshingly different. The best part was that the PM’s speech was short and that he allowed students to ask many questions,” said Pankaj Kumar, an evening shift student at Delhi Public School, RK Puram.
The only ones who were present in school for the speech at Delhi Public School, RK Puram, were hostellers and kids from the evening shift. Day scholars had sent personal messages to parents of evening shift students to ensure that their children heard the speech.
“We couldn’t call all of our 8,000 students. Apart from that we did not have space to accommodate and manage them either,” said RK Saini, principal, DPS RK Puram.
In various other schools where attendance was optional, a lot of enthusiastic children stayed back.
At Springdales School, Pusa Road, around 500 out of 1,200 students turned up despite attendance not being mandatory.
“We had sent circulars encouraging parents to send their children and we think it was a decent turnout. Our students were very happy and keenly tuned in to the speech,” said the media coordinator at Bloom Public School.
In some other schools, Modern School, Vasant Vihar, however, the speech was telecast in an empty room with no student staying back taking advantage of the optional attendance rule.
While reactions from most students were positive, some children did wonder out loud why they were being forced to listen to the PM’s speech on Teachers’ Day.
“His address should have been for the teachers. He could have spoken to us on Childrens’ Day and that too during the normal school hours. In any case, making students listen to a speech mandatorily doesn’t strike to me as very democratic,” said a student at a prominent south Delhi school.
A majority of schools had declared Friday a holiday for their junior sections.