Nearly 40,000 students in 100 schools of North Delhi Municipal Corporation are compelled to sit without benches to attend their classes. The horrific situation was revealed in a House Committee meeting where Congress Councillor Pooja Bagri complained that three MCD (Municipal Corporation of Delhi) schools in her ward are struggling with acute shortage of benches and no furniture has been made available despite her constant pursuance.
The students, hailing mainly from economically marginalised communities, complained that it is getting difficult to sit on the floor as the winters are getting harsher. Even the teachers said that they have been given their chairs after much nagging. They further argued that they have started receiving complaints from parents about the affairs at the schools. They argued that it becomes very difficult to convince parents to sends their wards to school under such circumstances.
MCD schools have been notorious for the high rate of drop out by students. Praja Foundation, a non-profit organisation, in its report on State of Education in Delhi stated that six per cent of the enrolled students leave MCD schools before Class 6 due to various reasons.
The report read, "On an average, from the three Municipal Corporations, in the last three years (2014- 15 to 2016-17), East Delhi Municipal Corporation (EDMC) has witnessed the maximum dropout followed by North Delhi Municipal Corporation." It further stated that 18,860 students dropped out of North MCD schools in 2016-17.
Bureaucratic Apathy behind Students’ Plight
Commenting on the shortage of benches, Poonam Bagri said that the students are the victims of redtapism and apathy of the bureaucracy. She said, "I raised the issue one and half years ago and I was assured that the issue will be resolved within 6 months. But the NDMC officials have been making excuses only to delay the matters. When I protested and asked why the commissioner should not be prosecuted for making false assurances, they replied that this will be done at the earliest."
But it is not only the shortage of benches which the over three lakh students of NDMC-run schools are coping with. Students hailing from Jahangir Puri and Mukundpur complained that they are forced to sit with other classes as their schools do not have enough teachers for taking classes. The school in K block of Jahangir Puri has only 15 teachers to manage 1,800 students, which reflects a student-teacher ratio of 120 students per teacher.
The Right to Education Act 2009 had prescribed that student-teacher ratio should not exceed beyond 35 students per teacher. A teacher on condition of anonymity said, "We are sometimes forced to attend 150 to 200 students at once. How do you expect we can give 100 per cent in this situation?"
Also Read: Dropout Rate Continues to Plague Government Schools in Delhi