Fact-check: AAP Claims Delhi Will Have India's First Virtual School
There already exist four virtual schools in the country
The Aam Aadmi Party recently tweeted that the Delhi government had started working towards establishing India's first virtual school. But this claim is false since there already exist virtual schools in the country.
While there is no government virtual school in the country, private virtual schools such as The Virtual School of India (TVSI), SEAS Global Institute, K8 School and 21K School, have been providing students online schooling since early 2020.
दिल्ली सरकार ने देश का पहला Virtual School बनाने की तैयारी शुरू की— AAP (@AamAadmiParty) April 2, 2021
👩🏻💻Delhi Model Virtual School 'कहीं भी और कभी भी' पढ़ाई की सुविधा देगा
👩🏻💻Dy CM @msisodia ने अधिकारियों के साथ बैठक के दौरान USA और New Zealand में चल रहे Virtual स्कूल के Model पर चर्चा की pic.twitter.com/dLaMsKw7rn
FactChecker tried contacting these schools. But, at the time of going to press, received responses from only TVSI and SEAS Global Institute. Once the other two schools respond, this post will be updated.
SEAS Global Institute
SEAS is a virtual school located in Dehradun, Uttarakhand and was inaugurated by state's Former Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat in October 2020. It is a fully virtual school and offers courses from kindergarten to Class 12.
"We function like a regular school but our method of teaching is completely different from other schools in India," Reena Prakash Tyagi, founder and chairperson of SEAS, told FactChecker. "We mainly follow the Cambridge curriculum. The topics are the same but the content and method of teaching is very different. We also give a fair knowledge of the Sanskrit language to our students from grade one," Tyagi added.
The school offers core subjects like mathematics, language arts and reading, science and social studies as well as electives and health lessons.
"I have been strictly against the rote learning method because as an educator, I understand that practical knowledge is extremely important," said Tyagi. The school has a total of 10 students from Mumbai, Delhi and Ahmedabad. "Since we launched our school only a few months back, we're yet to enrol more students and our admissions are on," she added.
The Virtual School of India
TVSI, which is located in Bengaluru, was first launched in April 2019 and was fully opened for students in April 2020, according to David Victor, founder-director of the school. The school is a part of Academy of Excellence, an international montessori and teachers' training organisation founded in 1989.
Although TVSI is a virtual school, they do have a physical presence and offer hybrid learning to students residing in Bengaluru. The number of students in the last academic year 2020-21 was around 400 and the student-teacher ratio is 15:1, said Victor. The school is not affiliated with any educational board but is registered with the Karnataka government and recognised by the educational sector.
TVSI enrols students from kindergarten to Class 12 and follows the National Institute of Open Learning (NIOS) or Cambridge syllabus. When asked whether the relaunching of the virtual school was a response to the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown, Victor said, "The launch of the school wasn't exactly a response to the pandemic. The idea to launch the virtual school existed before that but coincidentally it clashed with the pandemic."
K8, an online learning school in Ahmedabad, was launched in August 2020 and is powered by Discovery Education. K8 is accredited by Cognia, an accreditation body in the US. The virtual school focuses on customised learning where the demands and needs of the learners are individually met. Apart from academic subjects such as English, mathematics, science and physical education, the school focuses on learning through play, arts and wellness.
As mentioned on the website, the school also provides self-paced learning concepts for slow learners.
21K School is another online school which focuses on skill-based and personalised learning. The Bengaluru-based school is accredited by Cognia and offers an option of the Indian (National Curriculum Framework), American and International General Certificate of Secondary Education curriculum for students. 21K enrols students from kindergarten to Class 8 and offers core subjects such as communication and language, mathematics, science and social studies alongside electives such as computational learning and skill-based programs.
In the April 2, 2021 tweet, AAP said that Delhi's Deputy Chief Minister and Education Minister Manish Sisodia, in a meeting with teachers, discussed the existing models of virtual schools in the US and New Zealand.
In 2017-18, 501 full-time virtual schools were functioning in the United States and they had more than 2,97,700 students enrolled, according to a 2019 report by the National Education Policy Center, University of Colorado.
There is a 4.8% increase in virtual schools and nearly 50% increase in student enrolment from 2013-14 in the US, according to a FactChecker analysis of the data from the National Centre of Education Statistics, United States.