The Directorate of Education (DoE) has started virtual classes, and those who lack the resources to attend them, depend on the worksheets provided. But the students of the Urdu-medium schools in Delhi are struggling as the online material, and the worksheets are untranslated, mostly available in English and Hindi. Educational institutions across the country have been trying to implement a virtual education infrastructure that facilitates the students to learn from the safety of their homes. While this system has somewhat worked for the students with good internet connectivity and electronic gadgets to continue the classes, the disadvantaged have continued being at a loss.
Steps being taken by the DoE
The DoE has been providing worksheets for all subjects on a daily basis to all the schools, in English and Hindi. These worksheets have both questions and notes from the classes. Teachers receive these worksheets from the zonal offices, and then, they circulate them to the students on WhatsApp. Parents are also allowed to come and collect these worksheets from the schools. Hindustan Times contacted a senior official who was quoted saying, “DoE is providing worksheets only in Hindi and English because they are the most preferred mediums in our schools. The education department has given independence to the schools to modify them or introduce anything suitable for their students. The teachers of Urdu-medium schools can either translate them or explain to the students through audios or videos. Many of them are already doing this.”
Need for worksheets in Urdu
There are 20 Urdu-medium government schools in Delhi that are responsible for the education of about 20,000 students, mostly from the Walled City. The vice-principal of one such school said to Hindustan Times, “We receive at least 2-3 worksheets per class every day from DoE, but they are either in Hindi or English. It has become a major task for us to translate those for our students in their medium of studies on a daily basis. Though our students can understand both Hindi and English, if they do not read and write in Urdu script, they will lose grip over the language.”
The circulation of worksheets
As other teachers circulate the worksheets on WhatsApp, even the Urdu-medium school teachers use the platform for distributing the worksheets. But first, they manually translate all of them into Urdu. A teacher from a school in Jafrabad said, “It takes a day or two to translate the worksheets and send them to the students since only Urdu-knowing teachers can do that. Many of our teachers are acquainted with the language, but can’t write in the script. That’s why the translation work takes a lot of time and due to which the worksheets reach late to our students.” As of now, 6,221,195 coronavirus infections have been detected in the country, with the partial opening of schools and voluntary attendance in a few states. Schools in Delhi continue to remain closed till October 5.
The Policy Times Suggestions
- The education ministry of Delhi has promised to look into the matter and take necessary steps.
- While it is easy to say that the teachers can translate the worksheets for the students, they continue being at disadvantage as they get the worksheets late.
- Even though most of the students understand Hindi and English, their practice of Urdu will be hampered and they have to write their board exams next year in Urdu itself.
- These are testing times and the education system is already struggling to manage things for the students. Simultaneously, they should remember that the students are struggling to stay afloat too.
- In the bigger picture, one must not forget that this disparity in the education mediums is one of the main reasons why an idea of teaching in the ‘mother tongue’ proposed in NEP 2020 is not feasible for a multilingual country like ours.