By Nivedita Singh
New Delhi, Jan 4 (IANS) The government schools in the national capital have witnessed large-scale reforms with new infrastructure and curriculum since 2015 and this also includes the involvement of parents in the process.
According to Sandhya Sharma, a Maths teacher in one of the city government schools, there was no interaction between the teachers and parents before 2015.
“Even if we wanted to communicate to the parents, it was difficult as most of the students were from the lower section of the society and that required both their parents to work. Even now the picture is the same, but the organised meeting between parents and teachers not just gave a reason for our meetings, it also encourages students to push their parents to visit the school,” she said.
The mega Parent-Teacher Meeting (PTM) in the Delhi government schools was launched in July 2016 after the Aam Aadmi Party came to power in Delhi. This practice has since become a regular feature in all government schools. These PTMs are unique in the way the government reaches out to parents.
The government makes an effort to reach parents through FM radio and newspaper advertisements. These are special as Delhi Education Minister Manish Sisodia invites parents to the schools for the meeting.
For 48-year-old Ramesh Yadav, the Delhi government school in Laxmi Nagar was not the same, like it was when he enrolled his son in 2014.
“I came to the school for my son’s admission in 2014. I never visited the school since then. Even when I wanted to at times, I hesitated. But from 2016, I am attending the PTMs. It helps me to understand my child’s growth and development. I know where we need to focus and also feel good when teachers praise him for doing well in subjects,” Yadav said, adding that although he could not speak English, his son is very good at it and the teacher has praised him for the same.
His wife, a homemaker, said she and her husband could not study due to lack of money.
“I wished this never happens to my son. We wanted him to get a good education. Now when teachers tell us about his growth, we feel proud. He (her husband) runs a grocery shop in Laxmi Nagar, we could not afford to spend too much on his education. But it feels good to see the reforms happening in schools.”
The couples were among the thousands of parents who visited the school on Saturday for another mega PTM organised by the Delhi government.
During the PTM, Education Minister Sisodia and Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal also visited the schools and took feedback from the parents and students. Kejriwal, after his visit to a school in Rouse Avenue, said the PTM was only a concept of private schools earlier.
“In government schools, this used to happen only on papers. PTM is crucial for students’ growth.”
On being asked that the BJP is criticising the PTM and its timing, as the city will go for polls in few weeks, he said this was not the first meeting.
“If they (opposition) feel it is a gimmick, what can I say. They also tried to stop it. But it is wrong. There should be no politics in education and schooling. However, education should be a part of politics. I don’t understand why they want to stop this,” he told the media.
Sisodia also visited different schools in the city for the PTM.
For 55-year-old Santosh, finding time for his children is difficult. “I work in a cloth shop. But I look forward to the PTMs. This not just updates me about my children’s development but also helps me meet their friends and teachers. This way, I am more involved with them,” said the father of two girls.
“One is in ninth and the other one is in sixth class. I feel good when the teachers praise them. I am proud of my daughters,” he added.
He shared that he feels respected when he comes to school. “My little girls share the details of their teachers and friends. I see and meet them in the PTM. We get more common things to talk about after every PTM.”
Echoing him was 38-year-old Mukesh who works as a security guard. “I get to know what all is happening in schools and what all my son is getting to learn.”
Saroj, a single mother hailing from Uttar Pradesh, said her daughter will be the first female in their family to sit for a board examination.
“No female in the family could study till class 10. She (15-year-old Anjali) will be the first one to give class 10 examinations. Teachers told me how I can help her in the preparation. I work as a domestic help and it will be an honour for me if she gets good grades in the examination,” said Saroj, as she pats Anjali’s back.
For Manu Gulati, another teacher from the Delhi government school, this is no less than a festival.
“This is not a regular meeting between teachers and parents. All the stakeholders come together for a healthy discussion of the children.”
She said she felt good that parents came even in the chilly winter. “We thought there will be fewer parents, as it was very cold. But the parents came in large numbers. Also, the parents who came late were entertained by the teachers,” she said.
From the point of view of a teacher, she said the PTM is important as it also gives feedback to teachers and helps in their bonding with parents and students.
“We also learn new things from parents and students during the interaction. The meeting is no longer just a formality. Also, this PTM is important as exams are coming. The students and parents were informed about the crucial steps they can take in improving the results in the coming examinations.”
(Nivedita Singh can be contacted at [email protected])