Published: 24th June 2022
Why did SC, tribal schools in Tamil Nadu perform poorly in Class X, XII exams?
Several educationists, working with tribal children, cited unfilled vacancies as one of the main reasons why the schools fared poorly
With the schools run by the Adi Dravidar and Tribal Welfare Department recording the lowest pass percentages among different categories of schools in the Tamil Nadu in the recently declared Class X and XII results, educationists opined that they would have fared better if all the teacher vacancies were filled, and had there been a better mechanism in place to monitor their functioning.
The poor performance has also given rise to the demand that these schools, around 1,466 in number in the State, should be brought under the School Education Department to ensure they function more efficiently.
In the Class X results, while the Adi Dravidar Welfare schools recorded a pass percentage of 78.11%, the Tribal Welfare schools got 78.37%. In comparison, the government schools had a pass percentage of 85.25%. In Class XII, while the percentage stood at 89% for government schools, it was only 82.21% and 86% for Adi Dravidar Welfare and Tribal Welfare schools respectively.
Several educationists, working with tribal children, cited unfilled vacancies as one of the main reasons why the schools fared poorly. For instance, an Adi Dravidar Welfare school at Irumbedu in Chengalpattu district, which was upgraded as a higher secondary school two years ago, has been functioning without a headmaster and with no new teacher being appointed since.
“Even though students were admitted to Class XI and they have written their exam, the headmaster post is still vacant and higher secondary teachers are yet to be appointed. This is the plight of several schools which were upgraded,” said a teacher of the school.
‘Bringing schools under edu dept way forward’
According to sources, in Erode district alone, posts of four headmasters, 30 BT teachers (Bachelor of Teaching), eight secondary grade teachers and four PG teachers are vacant in 22 government tribal residential (GTR) schools. Further, sources added that most of the teachers who are appointed in hilly areas don’t come to schools regularly due to the lack of facilities there.
“In the Adi Dravidar Welfare School at Rettamangalam, the posts of a high school English teacher and two Maths teachers are vacant. There is not even a post for commerce, accounts, and Tamil teachers in high secondary even though many students are opting for groups with these subjects,” said a teacher.
S Natraj of Sudar, an organisation that works with tribal students, said bringing these schools under the School Education Department is the way forward. “The teachers working in Adi Dravidar and Tribal Welfare Department schools come under the welfare tahsildar."
"Though there are several criticisms of the school education department, they will have a better vision and mechanism to develop the learning outcomes of the students than the officers.” V Vasanthi Devi, an educationist and former vice-chancellor of Manonmaniam Sundaranar University, held the same view.
“Several schemes, including the ones for the reconstitution of School Management Committees, undertaken by the SED, are also not implemented in these schools. The hostels there are also uninhabitable,” she said. Many teachers, however, said bringing the schools under the SED could have adverse consequences too.
Many teachers refuse to work with the SC and ST students. At present, the posts of elementary teachers are fully reserved for SC and ST candidates. Bringing them under the SED will negatively impact the job opportunities of youngsters from these communities.
"The SED has been showing a step-motherly attitude towards these schools while implementing certain schemes. Therefore, block-level and district-level education officers should be created for monitoring these schools,” said V Baskaran, president of Villupuram wing of Tamil Nadu Adi Dravidar Matrum Pazhangudi Aasiriyar Kappalar Nala Sangam. Officers from the Adi Dravidar and Tribal Welfare department said they have requested the Teachers’ Recruitment Board (TRB) to fill up the vacancies.
While there are 95,013 students in TN’s Adi Dravidar Welfare schools, there are 28,263 in Tribal Residential Schools, and 2,890 in Ekalvya Model Residential schools