Ensure children who lost a parent to Covid continu in same school: Delhi govt

Till June, the Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights identified at least 2,029 children who lost either or both parents to Covid
Family members of a Covid victim in Delhi. (Sanchit Khanna/HT PHOTO)
Family members of a Covid victim in Delhi. (Sanchit Khanna/HT PHOTO)
Updated on Sep 24, 2021 03:12 AM IST
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By HT Correspondent, New Delhi

The Directorate of Education’s private school branch on Thursday asked all its district officials to ensure that children who lost either one or both parents to Covid-19 continue their elementary education in an uninterrupted manner and preferably in the same school.

“Children who have become orphans or lost a parent after March 2020 either due to Covid-19 or otherwise, need due attention to enable them to continue their education in private unaided/aided recognised school,” said Yogesh Pal Singh, deputy director of education, private school branch.

The education department directed that such students may be adjusted in the same school that they are studying in, if the school is running on DDA or government allotted land under the freeship scheme. According to the scheme, private schools, allotted plots at concessional rates, are required to set aside 20% seats for children from the underprivileged sections.

“Or, such students may be treated as a student studying under economically weaker section/ disadvantaged group category and reimbursement may be claimed from the Directorate of Education, up to elementary level and after class 8, such students may be guided/facilitated for admission in any government school for uninterrupted further education,” Singh said in the circular.

According to the Right to Education Act, 25% of seats in entry-level classes — nursery, kindergarten and Class 1 — in all private schools are to be reserved for the EWS/DG category which includes 3% reservation for children with special needs. These students are entitled to free textbooks, writing material, and uniforms till class 8, for which the government reimburses a fixed amount to schools.

The department had issued a similar in August this year. A senior DOE official said on condition of anonymity, “The circular issued in August was for awareness whereas this one directs schools on how to ensure uninterrupted education of children who have lost parents to Covid. It also clarifies that schools can shift students to EWS/freeship category and then submit a proposal to the directorate instead of doing it in the reverse, which may cause delays and affect the child’s education.”

Till June, the Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights (DCPCR) had identified at least 2,029 children who lost either one or both parents to Covid-19. Their names have been shared with the women and child development department to ensure that eligible beneficiaries are able to avail of government schemes and aid.

Between March and May, Delhi saw over 13,000 Covid-19 deaths and 786,000 infections during the second wave of the pandemic. On May 18, chief minister Arvind Kejriwal announced a one-time relief of 50,000 to families that lost the breadwinner to Covid. He also announced free education and monthly aid of 2,500 to those orphaned by Covid, till they attain the age of 25 years.

Malini Narayanan, principal of Army Public School in Shankar Vihar and chairperson of the National Progressive Schools’ Conference, an umbrella body of schools, said private schools have provided relief and made arrangements for supporting such children of their own accord.

She said the inclusion of orphaned children in the EWS category would create confusion and put an additional burden on schools.

“Inclusion of orphaned children in the EWS category would create confusion and add to the financial burden on schools. Even if the government pays for them, it would still be a huge dent on the school’s finances as it will only get a paltry sum ( from the government). There are still bills pending that have not been cleared by the government,” said Narayanan.

She further said private schools have stretched themselves to help orphaned children and their families. “We have done our bit. We don’t want this as a continuum and addition to the EWS category. If such children will be counted in the EWS category, the number of new children we count in EWS will reduce,” said Narayanan.

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Saturday, October 16, 2021