The Birbhum district primary school council has fielded 10,000 teachers to reach out to three lakh students as schools remain closed because of the lockdown and officials fear prolonged absence from the learning process might lead to dropouts.
There are 2,401 primary schools in Birbhum which have been closed since March.
Officials have said chances of an increase in dropout rates are high as 85 per cent of the students are from rural areas and first-generation learners.
“We held a meeting earlier this month with all teachers’ associations and appealed to them to visit the homes of students at their localities to reconnect with the education system. These times are vulnerable and rural children might become dropouts,” said Pralay Nayek, the chairman of Birbhum DPSC.
The dropout rate was last calculated two years ago and it was not more than three per cent at the primary level.
“Tendency of not attending schools results in dropouts in most cases and it has been around four months that students are out of classrooms. They need to keep up the habit of reading and learning. Otherwise, it would be tough for us to get them back to school later,” said an education department official.
According to an order, the teachers would visit houses of their students and interact with them along with their parents regarding their study during the lockdown. The school inspectors have been asked to supervise the visits of the teachers.
“It would be a continuous process to keep a connection with the students. The teachers would provide tasks to them and advise the parents to ensure that the children study at least once daily. After the first round of visits, we would send study materials to the students,” said Nayek.
Several teachers who come from other places had asked how they would join the programme during the lockdown. “We have asked them to consult with local school inspectors and track students at their locality,” said an official in the primary education department.
Teachers’ organisations have welcomed the move and agreed to fully cooperate with the council.
“Birbhum is probably the first district to plan such visits and it is important to keep in touch with the students. We have promised to extend our support,” said Sudhanshu Sekhar Sarkar, district secretary of the CPM-backed All Bengal Primary Teachers’ Association (ABPTA).