With teachers out on Covid duty, Delhi’s public schools flag staff shortage
With the Class 10 and 12 board examinations scheduled for November and authorities likely to deliberate on reopening schools for students of classes 6 to 8 next week, principals and teachers across government schools in Delhi are concerned about the shortage of staff, with many still engaged in Covid-19 duties.
Hundreds of Delhi government school teachers are currently working with district administrations in various capacities —at the airport, in vaccination centres at hospitals, as well as cracking down on Covid-norm violations across the city.
Sant Ram, the district secretary of the government schoolteachers’ association in west Delhi-A, which has over 58 schools in the area, said institutions need even more teachers than usual to ensure Covid-19 protocol are followed inside school premises.
“Due to Covid-19 protocols, classes have been split into two or three batches, which necessitates thrice the number of teachers. Instead of allocating more teachers, the sanctioned staff has been given other duties. We need staff to look over mid-day meal preparations or to ensure Covid-19 protocols on the premises. If we reopen schools for classes 6, 7 and 8, where there are more students than secondary and senior secondary classes, the shortage of teaching staff will create a problem,” he said.
An education department official, however, said these considerations will be taken into account while the government decides to resume in-person lessons for more classes.
“This is going to be one of the factors while deciding whether to reopen schools for classes 6 to 8, and it will not be overlooked. When the decision is taken to reopen the schools, it will be ensured that the teachers are back to schools from the Covid-19 duties,” said the official.
Principals across several Delhi government schools echoed similar concerns.
Sukhbir Singh Yadav, president of the government principals’ association, said, “We are in touch with several schools where 20% of the staff are engaged in Covid-19 duties. Principals have expressed concerns in helping students learn under the new exam pattern and address learning gaps. Due to the festive season, there are several holidays in the coming weeks, including an autumn break. Students’ preparations have been hit, even as the pre-board exams start from October 21. Without allowing teachers to join schools, it is not possible to reopen classes 6 to 8, especially when an increased number of students from private schools have been admitted this year.”
In September, the Delhi government said the enrolment figures in government schools had reached 1.76 million for the 2021-22 session — a jump from 1.62 million from the 2020-21 session and 1.50 million in the pre-Covid academic year of 2019-20.
Principals across government schools said that this was due to the migration of students from private schools under the non-planned admissions category which saw a sharp spike this year.
Referring to an order released this week asking teachers to report back to school duties, Yadav said, “Teachers from classes 9 to 12 have been waiting for relieving letters from district administration to join schools. This will happen in a phased manner,” he said.
On Tuesday, education director Udit Prakash Rai also issued directives asking all district and zonal deputy directors of education (DDEs) to ensure that teachers of classes 9 to 12 report back immediately “so that the students’ preparation with regards to pre-board/mid-term/projects and board examination is started immediately.” This came after the divisional commissioner issued a letter on September 3 asking district magistrates to deploy staff from other departments not teaching classes 9 to 12.
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