Delhi government's 'Chunauti 2018' programme to reduce school dropouts faces financial stumbling block

The Delhi education department’s progamme ‘Chunauti 2018’ has met with a speed breaker as many students who failed in class 9 could not take admission in National Institute of Open Schooling as required, due to the high examination fees.

Official sources informed that out of more than 58,000 students who were expected to enroll, only 8,048 students have taken admission in NIOS through their schools till the last date, which was 29 September.

“The number of students who have enrolled themselves online are yet to be taken into account. But we fear that the students who might have enrolled themselves online would add up at the most another three thousand more candidates to the list. Thus, the total number of candidates enrolled would be far below the expected number,” the source said.

As per a circular issued by the Directorate of Education, the examination fees in the NIOS are Rs 250 per theory subject and Rs 125 for every practical subject. The student has to pay another Rs 150 per subject as transfer of credit fees.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

The circular also mentions that for students who take exams for five subjects, including two practical subjects, the total fees would be as high as Rs 1250.

“Many poor students cannot pay the Rs 15 fees charged by the Delhi government schools in class 9 and 10. How can the government expect them to pay such a huge sum of money?,” asked lawyer and activist Ashok Agarwal, while speaking to Firstpost.

The high fees in the NIOS have left many students asking for financial help from the schools where they studied till class 9. Some of the schools have already reached out to them.

Shashi Kant Singh, the principal of a government co-ed school in Dwarka has already announced that a part of the fees would be paid by the school from its funds.

“We have asked the students who are facing financial problem in paying the NIOS fees to bear Rs.600 in total by themselves and the rest would be paid by the school,” he said. He said that his school has nine such financially weak students.

Another teacher who spoke to Firstpost on the condition of anonymity said that the deadline for submitting enrolment forms is also one reason why many students could not take admission in NIOS.

“The last date of submission was 29 September, but parents get their salaries on 1 October or even later than that. They sought financial help from various persons and institutions and promised to return the money soon after their salaries are credited,” he said.

Speaking to Firstpost, Shashi Kant Singh opined that the government also can pay the fees on behalf of the students and bail them out. “ I have written to the government asking it to bear the fees of the poor students, but I do not know whether the advice would be accepted,” he said.

He also added that the government can also extend the deadline for students who failed to submit their forms due to financial reasons.

The state government had launched the 'Chunauti 2018' programme last year to curb school drop-out rates. The programme is meant to help academically weak students clear their Class X exams by the year 2018. It allows the students who failed in Class IX to appear for their Class X exams through Patrachar Vidyalaya.

And to ensure that these students find it easier to pass, they were also given some additional flexibility. "They would have the option of dropping subjects like Mathematics," the policy further added. But this flexibility could not help, because only 2.01 percent of the students who appeared for exams from Patrachar Vidyalaya could pass.

Official sources said that after a huge section of the students failed in Patrachar Vidyalaya, the government has decided to move them to NIOS so that they can be given separate classes. The government has decided to provide them with special classes, for which 163 study centres have been planned under 34 nodal centres throughout Delhi. “In these study centres, the students will be given special classes in subjects in which they failed,” a source said.

The government has allocated a budget of Rs 2.64 crores for this project, for which teachers will be recruited.

“We are waiting for the final tally of the number of students who have enrolled in the NIOS programme to come, after which we will recruit teachers and other staff members for the study centres,”says Shashi Kant Singh who himself also heads a zone.

Updated Date: Oct 07, 2017 11:16 AM

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