New Delhi, 24 September 2021 – The private school branch of the Directorate of Education or DoE has asked all its district officials to ensure that children who lost one or both parents to COVID-19 continue their elementary education uninterruptedly and preferably in the same school.
Yogesh Pal Singh, Deputy Director of Education, private school branch, laid out a statement, “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 recognized school.”
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Advice from Directorate of Education
- The Department of Education (DoE) directed that the COVID affected students may be admitted under the “free education category” immediately in the same school if it is running on Delhi Development Authority (DDA) or government allotted land.
- Singh advised and offered a solution that private schools can consider the COVID affected students under economically weaker sections/disadvantaged group category and claim reimbursement from the Directorate of Education.
- Students up to elementary level and after Class 8 can then be guided/facilitated for admission in any government school for uninterrupted further education.
Benefits Offered Under Freeship Scheme
- The Education Department has pointed out that as per the freeship scheme, all the private schools that have been allotted plots at concessional rates have to set aside at least 20% seats for children from the underprivileged sections.
- 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.
- 3% of seats are reserved for children with special needs.
- Students from the above-reserved categories are entitled to free textbooks, writing material, and uniforms till class 8, for which the government reimburses a fixed amount to schools.
Findings of Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights (DCPCR)
- Between March and May, Delhi saw over 13,000 COVID-19 deaths and 7,86,000 infections during the 2nd wave of the pandemic (findings till June 2021).
- The Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights (DCPCR) has identified at least 2,029 children who lost either or both parents to COVID-19.
Delhi Govt.’s Aid to COVID-Orphaned Students
- On May 18, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal announced a one-time relief of INR 50,000 to families that lost a breadwinner to COVID.
- DCPCR had shared the names of the COVID-orphaned students with the women and child development department to ensure that eligible beneficiaries can avail of the benefits of government schemes and aid.
- Kejriwal also announced free education and monthly aid of INR 2,500 to those orphaned by COVID, till they attained the age of 25 years.
Inclusion of Orphaned Children in EWS Category Will Burden Schools – NPSC Chairperson
The Principal of Army Public School in Shankar Vihar and Chairperson of the National Progressive Schools’ Conference, an umbrella body of schools, Malini Narayanan countered the Deputy Director of Education’s advice. She said that they (private schools) have already provided the COVID affected students with the required relief and support. She further said that the inclusion of orphaned children in the EWS category would create confusion and put an additional burden on schools.
Narayanan indicated that the private schools have stretched themselves to help orphaned children and their families and have ‘done their bit.’ They don’t want this as a continuum and addition to the EWS category.
According to Narayanan, “If such children will be counted in the EWS category, the number of new children we count in EWS will reduce.”
“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 in 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,” she added.