Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, while inaugurating the Delhi Model Virtual School, claimed that it was the first virtual school in the country. Kejriwal asserted the claim in a video widely circulated across social media through his social media handles.
In a 8.05 minutes video posted on Kejriwal's official Twitter handle, Arvind Kejriwal talks about the Delhi Model Virtual School, claiming that it is the first virtual school in Delhi and the country.
The video's caption reads, "Today, a big revolution is beginning in the field of education. Today the first virtual school in the country started in Delhi."
The claim is viral across Facebook as well.
The Logical Indian fact check team verified the viral claim and found it to be false. The Centre launched the National Institute of Open Schooling on August 24, 2021
We conducted a keyword search to understand the parameters of a virtual school. It is difficult to exactly define the term 'virtual school'. During the Covid-19 pandemic, most schools shifted to the virtual mode and could be considered virtual schools.
We conducted another keyword search for the first virtual school launched by the government. We came across the National Institute of Open Schooling, which the Centre launched in August 2021.
Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan launched the school on 24 August 2021. In a press release published by Press Information Bureau on the same date, Pradhan noted that this school is a new model of learning and is an example of how leveraging technology and innovation can facilitate greater inclusion in education. "The school is a first-of-its-kind initiative in the country which will provide advanced digital learning platforms through Virtual Live Classrooms and Virtual Labs," he said.
NIOS had shared the press release on its Twitter handle on 24 August 2021 as well.
In an article published by Mint on 24 August 2021, school education secretary Anita Karwal said that students in Classes 9 to 12 will obtain options to join a virtual school. In such schools, classes will be conducted virtually but be textbook-based, activity-based, and experiential.
These characteristics of the NIOS virtual school are similar to those of the Delhi Model Virtual School. While DMVS is free of cost for students, the NIOS' virtual open school charges Rs 250 per theoretical subject and an additional fee of Rs 120 for practicals.
We then searched for virtual school initiatives undertaken by other state governments. We came across a report by the Hindustan Times published on November 17, 2019.
The Uttarakhand government had launched the Virtual Classroom Project intending to benefit 1.90 lakh students from classes 6-12. The initial phase was to cover 150 schools, as per chief minister Trivendra Singh Rawat.
We also came across reports by Hindustan Times published on August 13, 2019, regarding a virtual classroom started by the Maharashtra State Council of Educational Research and Training alongwith the Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan and Valuable Group.
In our Fact Check, we also came across a statement by the National Institute of Open Schooling that clarified that the Delhi Virtual School was not the first virtual school in the country. "It is informed that NIOS already launched the first virtual school of the country in August 2021," the press release said.
We also found a tweet by news agency ANI published on September 1, 2022. The tweet carried a statement by Saroj Sharma, NIOS Chairperson, saying, "I don't know in what context he (Kejriwal) said that. We began the virtual school, if Delhi Govt wants our help and since we're experienced & already had three sessions, we'll guide them.."
Sharma also said that more than 25 lakh students had registered for the virtual schools across 7,000 study centres in India.
In our Fact Check, we found that the Centre launched the National Institute of Open Schooling on August 24, 2021. Maharashtra and Uttarakhand state governments also launched their initiatives for virtual education.
The NIOS clarified that it had launched the first virtual school in the country in August 2021. Thus, we can ascertain that the claim circulated by Kejriwal is false.
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