Students in Urdu-medium schools, struggle with worksheets in Hindi, English
Delhi government schools that use Urdu as the medium of instruction have been struggling to ensure uninterrupted learning to students amid the Covid-enforced restrictions because no online study material or worksheets in the language are being provided by the state’s education department, according to several officials and students in these schools.
With schools shut since March and classes shifted online, government institutions -- where a majority of the students do not have access to smart devices and the internet -- are dependent on the worksheets or study material provided by Directorate of Education (DoE) for virtual learning. These worksheets contain both notes and questions. Students can either access them on their class WhatsApp groups, or their parents can physically pick them up from the schools.
DoE has been providing worksheets every day for all subjects -- in both Hindi and English -- on a daily basis to all its schools. However, there are no worksheets in which Urdu is the language of instruction. The vice-principal of an Urdu-medium school in the Walled City said: “We receive at least 2-3 worksheets per class every day from DoE, but they are either in Hindi or English. It has become a major task for us to translate those for our students in their medium of studies on a daily basis. Though our students can understand both Hindi and English, if they do not read and write in Urdu script they will lose grip over the language.”
There are around 20 government schools in Delhi offering Urdu-medium education that cater to around 20,000 students. Most of these schools are in the Walled City.
After receiving the worksheets from their zonal offices, the teachers at these schools divide the work among themselves. They manually translate the worksheets, click pictures of them, and then send them to the students. The schools have also formed WhatsApp groups to share the translated study material with each other.
A teacher at an Urdu-medium School in Jafrabad said, “It takes a day or two to translate the worksheets and send them to the students since only Urdu-knowing teachers can do that. Many of our teachers are acquainted with the language, but can’t write in the script. That’s why the translation work takes a lot of time and due to which the worksheets reach late to our students.”
When contacted, a senior official in Delhi government’s education department said: “DoE is providing worksheets only in Hindi and English because they are the most preferred mediums in our schools. The education department has given independence to the schools to modify them or introduce anything suitable for their students. The teachers of Urdu-medium schools can either translate them or explain to the students through audios or videos. Many of them are already doing this.”
An official in Delhi education minister Manish Sisodia said, “The education department will assess the situation and will provide any other support required to ensure uninterrupted learning to these students.”
Students at some schools say they are getting untranslated worksheets in Hindi. Nazir, 17, a Class 12 student at a school in Old Delhi that offers both Urdu and Hindi as mediums of instruction, said: “We are receiving all the worksheets in Hindi. The school has also allowed us to use a mix of Hindi and Urdu while attempting the worksheets. It will affect my fluency in the Urdu language, and I have to appear in board exams next year.”
Manzar Ali Khan, member of the Delhi Minority Commission’s advisory committee, said, “It’s very important to have worksheets and study material in Urdu language for the students enrolled in Urdu-medium schools. If the students will continue study in any other language than it will affect their learning in their medium language. The government should look into the matter.”