Deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia on Thursday urged Union education minister Dharmendra Pradhan to defer the National Achievement Survey (NAS), scheduled to be held this Friday, as schools have only recently reopened and a large number of students is yet to return to school.
Around 3.8 million students from 1, 23,000 schools in 733 districts across 36 states and Union Territories will participate in the NAS 2021 on Friday. The survey, which assesses the competencies developed by students in grades 3, 5, 8 and 10, is conducted every three years.
In his letter, Sisodia said schools in Delhi reopened on November 1 after 19 months and only half the enrolled students are being called to schools. He added that many private schools in Delhi were yet to initiate in-person classes for children in the primary grades. While mentioning other states where students were not going to school on grounds of natural calamity and festivals, he said conditions were not favourable for holding the survey on Friday.
“It is being said that the survey is aimed at assessing the impact of the pandemic on learning gaps. Holding a survey on such a large-scale in a single day, when schools in most states have reopened recently after a long gap may not be feasible,” said Sisodia, adding that the findings of the survey will not mirror the ground realities, as it will not take into account the learning gaps of students studying remotely.
“Amid the prevailing circumstances, holding the survey will be waste of time and money. If wrong policies for students and teachers are formulated on the basis of the findings of the survey, the result can be adverse,” said the deputy chief minister.
A senior official at the education ministry, however, said NAS 2021 will be conducted as per schedule on Friday. “As of now, there is no change in the schedule,” the official said, asking not to be named.
Both private and government schools in Delhi will hold the NAS on Friday. While students in class 10 have been visiting school since September, students in grades below 9 returned to school only on November 1. Private schools, where students are still continuing with online classes, said they have requested parents to send children to school for the survey but this has not been made mandatory as attendance cannot be forced, as per the guidelines released by the Delhi Disaster Management Authority.
Michael V Williams, Dean, Mount Carmel Schools, which were selected as sample centres for grades 8 and 10, said the schools will not be participating in the survey as they were yet to resume in-person classes. “We were informed (about the survey) hardly 4-5 days ago and told that the survey was mandatory. How can we be ready on such short notice? It’s not in the right spirit to expect schools to call all students for a gathering in the middle of a pandemic,” said Williams.
Sudha Acharya, the chairperson of the National Progressive School Conference (NPSC) which has 122 Delhi schools as members, including Sardar Patel Vidyalaya, Bal Bharati Public School, Springdales School, Sanskriti School, Delhi Public Schools, Ahlcon International School, and Amity International School, said a number of member schools will be holding the survey on Friday.
“My school will be holding NAS for students in classes 8 and 10. We will be calling in the full strength of students in these grades though we have not made attendance mandatory. We have only sought cooperation from parents and expect around 80% attendance,” said Acharya, principal of ITL Public School, Dwarka.
Neetu Kapoor, principal of Army Public School, Delhi Cantonment, which has been selected as a centre for classes 5, 8, and 10, said the school had sent a circular to parents to encourage participation. “We have been told that it’s mandatory for everyone to come for the survey. We are encouraging children to come but have not made it mandatory,” said Kapoor.
Sukhbir Singh Yadav, school principal, Government Co-ed Sarvodaya Vidyalaya, Sector 21, Rohini, said all students in classes 8 and 10 will come to school for the survey. The school has 9 sections each in class 10 and class 8. “We will require 36 rooms to accommodate the students who will come on Friday. To comply with distancing norms, students in other classes have been asked not to come to school,” said Yadav.