Over the years, the Delhi government has focused on activating school management committees, which comprise members of the school as well as parents.
Focusing on one-on-one interactions with parents of each child every month, a new programme called ‘Parent Samvaad’ in Delhi government schools aims not only to increase parents’ participation in their children’s education but also help them with how they can do so. According to Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, the programme is not just a means to keep parents connected to their children’s schools but as a step to “transform” parenting.
Over the years, the Delhi government has focused on activating school management committees (SMCs) — which comprise members of the school as well as parents — by holding elections for them and creating an SMC fund for autonomous expenditure of schools. There are currently around 14,000 SMC members in government schools. With the new aim of facilitating regular one-on-one interactions with parents of 18 lakh children enrolled in these schools, an additional 22,000 ‘school mitras’ or parent volunteers have been brought on board.
In this programme, every SMC member and school mitra will be in-charge of staying in touch with parents of 50 students who stay in their locality or a neighbouring locality. Every month, a theme on ‘parenting’, ‘parent-child communication’ and ‘involvement of parents in their education’ will be set, on which these members will be trained. A toll-free calling system has been set up through which these members can contact parents, or vice-versa. Apart from talking about the child’s welfare and education, they are also to discuss the month’s theme with the parents.
The programme had been carried out on a pilot basis in 40 schools in the East and Southeast districts.
C S Verma, principal of one of the schools in which it had piloted, said one of the challenges during this trial period was money-related problems that school mitras faced while calling and staying in touch, resulting in the setting up of the toll-free system. According to him, teachers and heads of a few other pilot schools, some of the ways in which the SMC and school mitra network were helpful to them were to get in touch with students who had been directly admitted to their schools from feeder schools; to distribute textbooks to all students; to counsel children who were found to be in distress; to inform parents about the change in class X and XII CBSE exam patterns, and so on.
Expanding on the programme, Sisodia said: “In a day, children learn under their teachers for 6-7 hours and in the remaining hours, they learn under the guardianship of their parents. Whether parents want that or not, whether they are able or not, this is what is happening, children are learning from them… There needs to be a meeting point between parents and teachers, a child can’t be pulled in two different ways by both… It is necessary that parents and teachers come together and take the children in the same direction.”
Claiming that there are two major kinds of parenting in the country — “zero parenting” and “overparenting” — and a third in which parents say they are their children’s friends, he said, “Parenting is something of a middle road between all these… I hope a 7-day workshop with parents on parenting be held before children are admitted to schools. And this should happen every year. Now your child is 5 years old, how do you behave with a 5-year-old child, how do you handle them. Now your child is a teenager, now your child is of career age… today this programme will be a milestone towards this…”
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