Published: 24th June 2022
As enrolments increase, TN gov't schools now face major staff and infrastructure crunch
The TN School Education Department has informed that the number of students has increased by 6 lakh in gov't schools. But the schools struggle to accommodate them all
The government schools in Tamil Nadu witnessed a large number of student enrolments after the schools reopened, following the COVID-19 period. Though it is a joyous occurrence, the schools are now facing major infrastructure and teacher shortages. It is ironic that earlier these very state schools were prone to an imminent closure due to student shortages.
It has been reported that after the pandemic, even students from private schools have shifted to government schools. The Tamil Nadu School Education Department has informed that the number of students has increased by 6 lakh in government schools for students of Classes II to XII, as noted by IANS.
While it appears that parents are happy about not needing to spend hefty fees in private schools anymore, the high enrolment in government schools has taken its toll on the infrastructure as well as the teachers' strength. With the increasing enrolment, each school has more than 300 to 400 students leading to an increase of around 30 per cent of students in each class. And because of this, teachers find it difficult to teach more than 60 students in a class, which had only 40 students earlier.
The situation worsened so much that students were taught under a tree due to a lack of space in the classrooms. M Muthupillai, President, TN High School and Higher Secondary School Headmaster/ Headmistress Association, said, "You know, only 60 per cent of government schools in Tamil Nadu have proper infrastructure. Moreover, teachers are overloaded and all administrative work is being done by the teachers," speaking about the issue, as reported by IANS.
He added that each school should have a non-teaching staff for conducting clerical work. The Teachers' Union leaders also suggested that the government must improve the teacher-student ratio from the present 30:1 at the primary level to 18:1 to improve the performance. RK Ravishankar, a small-time businessman in Chennai, said, "My son is studying in Class VI and I shifted him from a private school where I had to shell out a huge fee. While there is no fee now, I am worried as to whether the education being given to him is at par with what he was receiving at the private school. Government is government and we don't know how far the teachers are motivated to give their best."
It has been reported that a major gap exists between teaching in private schools and government schools. In English for Class X, private school students on an average scored 57 per cent while the government school students could touch only 35 per cent. However, educationists are of the opinion that students continuing in government schools of Tamil Nadu are to benefit since the government has introduced a 7.5 per cent horizontal reservation in professional courses for students from these schools. This has helped several students from poor backgrounds get into the medical colleges of the state under the merit quota.
The Tamil School Education Department has received Rs 100 crore in the state budget for improving hygiene in government schools. Rs 7,000 crore is allocated to develop the school infrastructure under the Perasiriyar Anbazhagan School development scheme, as per IANS. Meanwhile, the government school teachers are of the opinion that more and more students would join the government schools if the government meets the immediate infrastructure requirements, including proper seating facilities for the children.
But this infrastructure and staff shortage in the state schools has affected the parents. Many of them are contemplating taking their children back to private schools. The management of private schools, on the other hand, are unruffled about these shifts.