It’s 3:20 pm on a hot April day. A group of 20 boys, their faces weary, has gathered around an ice-cream vendor outside the Government Senior Secondary school in north-west Delhi’s Kadipur village. No, they are not having an after-school chat. They have come to attend school as their classes start at 3.45pm—the fourth and the final shift of their school.
Wiping the sweat off his face with the sleeve of his white school shirt, 13-year-old Neeraj Kumar said he does not like to attend school at this hour. Most boys standing next to him nod their heads in agreement. “We wait for the whole day to come and attend school. We cannot plan our day. I hate coming for classes at this time,” said Kumar, a class 9 student.
According to officials at the directorate of education (DoE), this school is perhaps the only school in Delhi that works in four shifts—two in the morning, for girls, and two in the evening, for boys. The reason: One of the two school blocks, which had 10 rooms, is being rebuilt to create more space for its 3,850 students. So, since February last year, the school has had to maximize its 14 functional classrooms, corridors, and even offices to accommodate 2,050 girls and 1,800 boys in shifts.
The shifts mean the management has had to rework the entire timetable, how the available space is utilized, and even how it conducts the fall-in before classes.
Girls enrolled in classes 6 to 8 attend school in the first shift (7 am to 9.45am), those in classes 9 and 11 attend school between 10 am and 12:30 pm. Similarly, boys enrolled in classes 6 to 8 attend classes from 1 pm to 3:30 pm and those in classes 9 and 11 are accommodated in the last shift—3:45 pm to 6:30 pm.
For classes 10 and 12, the school is held in two shifts—girls in the morning (7 am to 12:30 pm) and boys in the evening (1 pm to 6:30 pm).
Students attend six periods of 25 minutes each in these shifts, RP Sinha, head of school (HoS), evening shift, said, adding, “We had 40-minute classes in normal shifts. We try to make the most of the time we have.”