Primary School in Tilauli (Gorakhpur) had a lot of students coming late for classes. The problem compounded further with a gradual decline in their attendance. Instead of punishing the students, the worried head teacher of the school, Alpa Nigam encouraged children to jot down the reasons for their delay and absence.
It was found that the students had to stay back for some household chores. To address the problem, Alpa found a way out. “We did not punish them. We helped the absentee students catch up on the missed out lessons by taking extra classes. Students did not take undue advantage of this liberty. In fact, it made them more responsible. And now they only take leave when it is actually required,” she said.
This model was appreciated by the education department, which is striving hard to push attendance up in schools. In association with UNICEF, it identified six such schools where teachers adopted innovative ways to ensure good attendance throughout the year. They have now shot motivational films based on the best practices followed in some of the government schools across the state.
These films will be screened in other schools where poor attendance is a big issue. An education department official said, “Poor attendance is a matter of concern in government schools. So, it was decided to adopt a policy of motivating teachers to do something to push attendance up.”
Now, Alpa and her team of teachers devote more time to the school to facilitate students. “We have realised that in this period of harvesting, kids are required to help their parents on the field, so we cannot force them to come to school. Instead, we stay back at school for few hours and help them complete the missed chapters,” she said.
Alpa found another creative method to attract students to school. “I’ve started creativity period where students are encouraged to make best out of waste. It has driven children out of their homes to come to school. Out of 249 enrolled students, at least 230 of them will be there in school regularly,” she said. There is no monetary provision for the materials required for creativity class. “But I spend a little from my pocket and once students get interested, they also start bringing waste materials from home,” she added.
Similarly, a primary school at Jaunpur also did something innovative to address the problem of absenteeism. They sought help of the school management committee, which tracked the absentees and brought those children back to school. This ensured regular attendance.
An Upper Primary School at Rudaupur in Ambedkar Nagar started a unique way of embarrassing teachers coming late to school.
“We noticed that a few boys were not coming to school for quite some days. I asked them what the problem was and they told us that the teacher does not come to school on time, so why should we go to school? So, parents were motivated to embarrass teachers by minding their classes in the absence of teachers. The children too began to attend school regularly,” said a member of school management committee. So far, motivational films have been shot in schools at Varanasi, Jaunpur, Ambedkar Nagar and Mirzapur. To push the attendance up, these films will be screened in other schools when the new session begins, said an education department official.