Soaring admission, insufficient classrooms: A bittersweet predicament for the gov't schools in Tiruchy

When the schools' representatives had approached the District Collector, he had assured a viable solution. Nothing has translated into action yet
A government school in Tiruchy admitting students on Vijayadasami recently | Pic: Express
A government school in Tiruchy admitting students on Vijayadasami recently | Pic: Express

Three corporation schools in the Tiruchirappalli district of Tamil Nadu had managed to attract large admission figures for this academic year. However, with not enough classrooms and the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) allowing only 20 students in a classroom due to COVID, the teachers are worried about managing their classes from November 1.

The three schools currently facing such an unusual predicament are Beemanagar Corporation Middle School, Edamalaipatti Pudur Panchayat Union Elementary School and Piratiyur Panchayat Union Middle School — the latter two happen to be within the city limits. Beemanagar School, as of October 21, recorded a total strength of 1,337 students, while E Pudur School had 809 students and Piratiyur School's total strength was 860 students. However, none of these schools has more than 12 classrooms.

Speaking to TNIE, H Pushpalatha, a teacher from E Pudur School, said, "We are coordinating 23 online classes with WhatsApp groups this year. However, we only have 10 physical classes." She added, "Many migrated from CBSE and ICSE schools, and wards hailing from well-off families are admitted. So, it is clear the migration is not for financial reasons. They would continue even when all the schools reopen. Hence, we require more classes."

Aasha Devi, Headmistress of Piratiyur School, said, "If we were to hold classes with only 20 students, we can only accommodate 240 students. With students coming in batches, it would take 4 days to finish teaching a day's plan." Ramesh Kumar, Assistant Headmaster of the school, added, "Students are very eager to come to class. If we were to let them come just once every three or four days, it would be unfair. With just seven teachers, we cannot focus on online classes simultaneously."

Beemanagar School's Headmistress Raja Rajeshwari, said, "Two years ago, we only had 490 students. We had six classrooms then and the corporation helped us add four more. However, it would hardly be sufficient now with a strength of 1,337. Even if we overcome the pandemic in the near future, 10 classrooms is not a big number." 

The parents and teachers had approached the district administration, ministers and parliamentarians regarding more classrooms, seeking a corporation land near the employment office, near the school's present location. Piratiyur School was even hoping to secure some land near the Regional Transport Office, which would've been very close to the existing school. When the schools' representatives had approached the District Collector, S Sivarasu, on different instances, he had assured to conduct an inspection and see what could be done. Similar were the responses of parliamentarians and ministers Anbil Mahesh Poyyamozhi and KN Nehru (both elected from Tiruchy district constituencies). The teachers said that they were hopeful of a school expansion project in the near future. 

When asked if they had stopped admitting more students, the schools' representatives said that they could not do that as the institutions are government-run schools and because many parents visit them with recommendations from higher government officials. "While we are happy there is so much reception, it would be great if we are helped with more space," said the head of one of the schools.

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