As most of the education shifted online due to Covid-19, over 166,000 students in Delhi's government and municipal schools are missing. This number is estimated to include nearly 8.5% of the total students enrolled in the schools of Delhi.
According to the data obtained from the education department of Delhi, and other civic bodies that run the municipal schools, these children have fallen off the map and the schools couldn't trace them anymore.
The government officials and school authorities said that the main reason behind this is the migration of thousands of families to their home states during the lockdown period. The sudden shift to online education could also be another reason that resulted in thousands of students not continuing with their classes.
According to official data available with the Delhi government and the three civic bodies of east, north and south Delhi, the maximum number of students who couldn't be traced study in schools run by the North Delhi Municipal Corporation (or North MCD).
The officials at North MCD's education department stated that around 20% (58,000) of the 290,000 students enrolled across 714 schools could not be reached despite multiple attempts at contacting them over the past 10 months, reported Hindustan Times.
In the schools run by the south civic body, around 15% (44,000) of the 284,000 students in 581 schools couldn't be traced. At the same time, in the schools run by the east municipal corporation, around 20% (33,600) of the 168,000 students enrolled in 365 schools are completely out of reach.
Comparatively, the current situation is comparatively better in Delhi government schools. Around 31,000 (approximately 2.5% ) out of 1,255,000 students enrolled in its 1,030 schools (from kindergarten to class 10) couldn't be found.
As per an assessment by UNICEF, over 460 million children across the world were unable to access remote learning tools in last year since the pandemic began. The UN has also called on countries to ensure an entire generation of children does not miss out on education due to Covid-19.
In the last few months, the government and municipal schools have taken various steps to trace the students. They attempted door-to-door visits, sending letters and assignments to various addresses found on their records, and formed peer groups to find them.
The officials at Delhi government schools informed that a majority of students who couldn't be found were promoted from municipal schools at the end of the last academic session and were admitted to class 6.
The head of Sarvodya Co-ed Vidyalaya in Rohini, Awadesh Kumar Jha said that around 40 students were completely unreachable at their school. Out of them, 25 are studying in class 6, he added.
He also informed that they had taken all possible steps, but these children could not be found at the addresses which they have mentioned in records. He said that they got to know from the neighbourhood of these families that they returned to their villages after the lockdown and still have not returned.
The municipal schools offer education till class 5 only. Every year, around 100,000 students move from municipal schools to government ones to take admission in Class 6.
As Covid-19 made all the processes digital, the admission of such students happened online this year.
The principal of a municipal school in Gandhinagar, east Delhi, said that 49 students couldn't be found. The principal, further added that their houses were locked and their numbers are not reachable.
Mukesh Suryan, the chairperson of South MCD education committee, said that according to the Right to Education Act, 2009, they couldn't strike off any student from the rolls up to class 8, whether they attend the school or not. He further said that they will continue searching for these students with the help of fellow students and neighbours throughout the year.