Delhi’s private schools write to parents on diya campaign, MHRD says it was voluntary

By: Express News Service | New Delhi |

Published: April 6, 2020 2:48:17 am

“Neither have we sent such directives to schools nor have we been asked to submit such information by the Ministry,” said Director of Education Binay Bhushan. (File)

Several private schools in Delhi asked parents to share details of whether their children participated in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Diya Jalao’ campaign, citing directions from the state government.

Following the Prime Minister’s appeal, Education Secretary Amit Khare had written to all autonomous institutions stating, “As directed by Prime Minister on April 3, 2020, students may light a diya or torch of their mobile for 9 minutes on 9 pm on April 5 to realise the power of light and highlight the objective for which we are all fighting together. However, no one should assemble on roads, or colonies, or anywhere outside their houses.”

The CBSE then forwarded Khare’s letter to all its affiliated schools. Ministry officials insisted the letter was only an advisory and doesn’t mandate participation.

Among the schools that sought the information were Sardar Patel Vidyalaya, Mother’s International School and Delhi Public School, Rohini.

They had asked parents to fill a form asking if they have downloaded the ‘Arogya Setu’ application on their smartphones and if their children lit a candle or diya at 9 pm on March 9.

The Indian Express has seen the forms circulated by the schools. The principals of the schools did not respond to calls and messages.

Arogya Setu is a COVID-19 tracking app that uses Bluetooth and location to track your interaction with someone who could have been tested positive for coronavirus.

The principal of a prominent South Delhi school said they had received directives to collect the information from Directorate of Education officials on the WhatsApp group for school principals and their administrative cluster. However, she said these directions were only to find out how many parents had downloaded the Aarogya app.

“The directorate has asked us to provide them with feedback on how many have downloaded the app by Monday morning, along with how we disseminated information on the app. These are directives from the MHRD. We have not sent out any form for the parents but have asked our Parent Teacher Association in charge to try and get an estimate. We have not been asked to submit anything on diya lighting. We have just been asked to let them know it is happening,” she said.

On Sunday evening the Ministry tweeted from its official handle: “MHRD has appealed to students and their families to download the Aarogya Setu app developed by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare but there was no form developed to monitor the activity. Mr Garg’s (joint secretary Maneesh Garg) email was only meant to inform students to voluntarily download the app and participate in the diya/candle lighting. There is no coercion on anyone to do the same. Since schools are closed there is no question of monitoring the students’ attendance.”

The Delhi Director of Education said no instructions to submit such information was issued. “Neither have we sent such directives to schools nor have we been asked to submit such information by the Ministry,” said Director of Education Binay Bhushan.

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