Monday, 15 August, 2022
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After Kerala’s denial, AAP’s Atishi clarifies tweet on ‘officials’ visit’ to study Delhi education model

The MLA tweeted that her govt hosted ‘officials from Kerala’, but Kerala education minister said they didn’t send anyone. She later identified the visitors as members of pvt organisations.

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New Delhi: Hours after Kerala Education Minister V. Sivankutty questioned her claim that the Arvind Kejriwal-led government had Saturday hosted “officials from Kerala” who wanted to understand the Delhi model of education, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) MLA Atishi has clarified that the visitors in question were office-bearers of private organisations.

On Saturday, the MLA had tweeted that her government hosted “officials from Kerala” at a Kalkaji school as they “were keen” to implement the Delhi model of education in that state.

“This is @ArvindKejriwal govt’s idea of nation building. Development through collaboration,” Atishi had tweeted. 

Sivankutty responded to the tweet Sunday afternoon, saying that not only had his state’s education department “not sent anyone” to the national capital to learn about AAP’s education model, but also that the department had assisted Delhi officials who visited his state in March to learn about the ‘Kerala model’. 

“We would like to know which ‘officials’ were welcomed by the AAP MLA,” Sivankutty tweeted. 

Within a few hours of Sivankutty’s response remarks and mounting criticism on social media, Atishi posted a fresh tweet in which she identified the “officials” from Kerala who visited Delhi as “Victor T.I, regional secretary of CBSE School Management Association, and Dr M. Dinesh Babu from the Confederation of Kerala Sahodaya Complexes”. 

Atishi also provided a direct rebuttal to Sivankutty. “It would have been good if you had done a fact check before tweeting on this issue. You might want to have a look at our press release to see what we actually said!” she tweeted, along with screenshots of the press release.

She also retweeted a tweet by Shailendra Sharma, principal advisor to Delhi’s education director, who defended the MLA, saying that a press release issued by Atishi’s office had clearly stated who the dignitaries were.

 

ThePrint sought a comment from the MLA via messages, but did not receive a response. This copy will be updated if a response is received.

The Delhi unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) weighed in on the controversy Sunday, claiming that Atishi’s claim “fell flat”, and called on Delhi Deputy CM Manish Sisodia to either issue a clarification or “censor” Atishi for “making false tweets”.

“BJP spokesperson has said that it is surprising how Ms. Atishi can make such false claims, violating state protocol for political gimmickry,” the Delhi unit said in a press statement.


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The ‘Delhi model’ of education

Ever since it formed the Delhi government in 2015, the AAP has often touted its reformist education model in the national capital during election campaigns.

As ThePrint had reported in 2020, the Delhi government had not met its initial target of building 500 schools, and had only managed to develop 30 at the time. In an attempt to bridge this gap, it built 8,000 new classrooms within these 30 schools, and increased the education budget year on year.

“Its approach stems from the belief that quality education is a necessity, not a luxury. Hence, it built a model which essentially has five major components and is supported by nearly 25 per cent of the state Budget. The validation of this model now creates a pathway for the next set of reforms,” Shailendra Sharma had written in The Hindu in 2021.

These reforms have included infrastructural expansion, reconstituting of school management committees (SMCs) and even the introduction of a “happiness curriculum”. However, AAP’s “Delhi model” of education has also been criticised over reports of a drop in the number of students attending Delhi government schools, and failure to deliver on reformist promises on a college level.

(Edited by Gitanjali Das)


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