The entry point for school education in the Delhi is nursery admission, which is a highly competitive process with most parents in the city struggling to secure a seat in a few schools of their choice.
For the first time ever, the Delhi government has decided to grade around 5,600 schools in the city on the basis of the infrastructure they possess and academic facilities they offer.
The government has enlisted the Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights (DCPCR) to assess each government, private, and municipal school on three primary criteria — safety, teaching-learning facilities, community engagement in case of government and municipal schools and social inclusion in case of private schools.
DCPCR is the statutory body to monitor implementation of rights of children and the Right To Education Act, 2009 in the city. The evaluation and grading fram-ework will be ready by May-end.
It is also in the process of developing software to conduct the exercise. The evaluation process will begin in August and the grades of the schools will be announced on Children’s Day, November 14, which parents will be able to access on a website.
The exercise, which was announced by deputy chief minister and education minister Manish Sisodia in the Delhi government’s budget, will help parents choose a school for their wards based on hard information and not merely rely on public perception of an institute. Delhi has 5,800 recognised schools, but 200 of them are minority schools which will not be graded as they do not fall under the RTE.
“As of now parents have to rely on general perception while choosing a school. They go by the look of school building and perception of the school in their friend’s circle. But now we will give them credible information on every aspect of the school. It will also help the government in fixing responsibility in cases of shortcomings by school and concerned departments,” said Anurag Kundu, member, DCPCR.
The entry point for school education in the city is nursery admission, which is a highly competitive process with most parents in the city struggling to secure a seat in a few schools of their choice.
The grading decision comes in the backdrop of incidents of violence in schools in recent years such as murder of a schoolboy in a Gurgaon school, the rape of a minor girl by a school attendant in Delhi, and the death of a student by who fell into a septic tank in school.
“We will enquire if the school has conducted background check of its employees and if it conducts workshops on sexual safety or not. Similarly, under fire safety, we will check if schools have fire-extinguishers and if the fire extinguishers are working and finally if the school conducts mock drills or not,” said Kundu. He said the grading will not be in comparison to other schools and that each school will be graded on various parameters. “We are working on what the grades and sub-grades will be like,” he said.
To evaluate schools on the teaching-learning parameters, the institutes will be asked to submit information on the number of teachers, students, classrooms, library and laboratory facilities. The DCPCR will then conduct inspections and surveys to cross- check the information.
“Let’s say the school claims to have ten computers; we will check how many of those computers work and if students are able to use it or not,” Kundu said.
The third parameter is different for private schools and government schools. In case of government schools, they will be evaluated on effective functioning of school management committees and parent-teacher meetings. “For private schools, we will speak to parents and students from the economically weaker section (EWS) category and find out if the school gives them free books and uniforms, how are students treated by teachers and if there are any problems they face,” he said.
The project will cover over 1,100 schools run by the government, 1,900 schools run by municipal bodies, 1,700 private, unaided schools recognised by the government and 900 private schools recognized by municipal bodies.
Shyama Chona, former principal of the RK Puram branch of Delhi Public School, welcomed the move.
“If parents can see the grades a school has in each category then they can make informed decision based on what facilities they need most. Many parents in government schools are not aware of standards but by this grading they will know of standards and can demand the same from schools,” she said.
Some are sceptical about the exercise and suspect that it may end up promoting some schools that will get better grades