Schools Divided Over Delhi Virtual School; worry about promoting the culture of coaching

Private schools here have mixed views on the Delhi-model virtual school launched on Wednesday, with some hoping it will increase access to education while others worry it will encourage a coaching culture and limit the possibilities of developing social skills.

Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal launched the “country’s first virtual school” – the Delhi Model Virtual School (DMVS) – and said students from across India will be eligible for admission. Affiliated to the Delhi Board of School Education, the school is for classes 9 to 12.

The National Progressive Schools’ Conference (NPSC), a body of over 120 private schools in Delhi, said the virtual schools will “deliver school education to coaching centers on a platter”.

“A school is not a place to achieve only cognitive competence. It is a happy space where socio-emotional well-being is also taken care of. Children learn life skills such as collaboration, empathy, problem solving and media literacy, which are important for success in life.

“We have a big digital gap in our country. During the pandemic, many children were deprived of classroom education,” NPS president Sudha Acharya told PTI.

He said children are already dropping out of school after class 10 because of the Common College Entrance Test (CUET) and many have joined coaching and dummy schools.

According to Pallavi Upadhyaya, Principal, Delhi Public School (DPS), Rajnagar Extension, the flip side is that the attention span of students in an online class is shorter than in offline classes.

“The level of concentration is also quite low. Children complain of fatigue and show apathy… Online learning has been and will continue to be a challenge for those who cannot afford laptops or smartphones. It would be quite interesting to see how the government bridges the gap between accessibility and opportunity for this sector of society,” he said.

Anshu Mital, Principal, MRG School, Rohini, said the virtual school will be useful for students who cannot enroll in traditional schools and attend physical classes due to lack of time, family responsibilities, long distance travel distance or any other obstacle.

“It has been launched with a noble intention, aimed more specifically at girls and giving education to everyone. I hope it will get a warm response from students and parents, and admission registrations are in large numbers. It will also be a crucial step in achieving good quality education for all,” he said.

Sangeeta Hajela, principal, DPS Indirapuram, said that online learning has somehow become a part of people’s lives after the pandemic.

“It will not be difficult for readers to cope with their academics through this modality. This is an excellent initiative to help those who drop out of school mid-way. In this way, they will be able to complete their basic education and enter the next stage of undergraduate education even without going to school regularly.

“The government might have a tough time enforcing this initiative. But it can be met with efficient execution and monitoring,” he said.

Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said the country’s first virtual school will be a milestone in the education sector. Classes will be online and recorded lectures will also be uploaded online, he said.

“Launching the virtual school model is a commendable move. Online learning is cost-effective, accessible and proactive. It will contribute to greater integration of children in the educational environment of this country.

“This move was a much-needed reform that needed to be implemented to promote student heterogeneity and bring students from different walks of life together,” said Divya Jain, founder and principal of The Class of One, an all-in-one school. line

Academics at Delhi University also have mixed feelings about the virtual school.

“It will give an opportunity to students from all over India to study the curriculum that has been praised all over the world. This is a welcome decision… If the Delhi model of education is implemented in different states, it will help to the country’s growth,” said Hansraj Suman, associate professor at Delhi University.

The professor, however, is also of the view that until the “crippling” digital divide in India is addressed, the virtual school will not be a success.

Some academics also fear that the virtual school will ruin the education system and deprive students of acquiring skills.

“The school offers a new environment for students to learn something new. Education is a community activity and you cannot have education at home,” opined Abha Dev Habib, who teaches Physics at Miranda House.

“If the Arvind Kejriwal government cares about extra-curricular activities, how will it help home education? They should provide supplementary study material, but it is not a good idea to make education online,” Habib said.

By making students take classes online, it will create a generation that will be isolated, depressed and will not have the ability to interact with people,” Habib added.

Echoing a similar sentiment, Sudhanshu Kumar, an assistant professor at Delhi University, said that while parents around the world are making efforts to reduce their children’s screen time as it affects IQ · intellectual, “India is moving backwards”.

“There is no alternative to physical classes… It will be a betrayal of poor children as their foundations will be weakened. In addition, some students will be behind in various social skills compared to those who opted for traditional schooling,” he said.

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