The Government schools of Tamil Nadu are facing a major infrastructure and teacher shortage following huge enrolment of students after Covid-19 pandemic.
Government schools of the state that were staring at an imminent closure due to student shortage were in for a pleasant surprise after the pandemic as students shifted from private schools to government.
Sources in the Tamil Nadu school education department told IANS that the number of students have increased by 6 lakh in government schools for students of Classes 2 to 12.
While parents are happy that they don’t have to run around for the hefty fee that the private schools were squeezing from them, the high enrolment in government schools has taken its toll on the infrastructure as well as the teachers’ strength.
R.K. Ravishankar, a small-time businessman at Chennai told IANS, “My son is studying in Class 6 and I shifted him from a private happening school where I had to shell out 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.”
With the enrolments increasing, each school has more than 300 to 400 students leading to an increase of around 30 per cent students in each class.
With the increase in the number of students, teachers find it difficult to teach more than 60 students in a class which earlier had only 40.
In a government school in Tamil Nadu, students were taught under a tree due to lack of space in the classes.
M. Muthupillai, President, TN High School and Higher Secondary School Headmaster/ Headmistress association while speaking to IANS 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.”
He also said that each school should have a non-teaching staff for conducting clerical work.
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.
There is, however, a major gap between the teaching of private schools and government schools.
In English for Class 10, private school students on an average scored 57 per cent while the government school students could touch only 35 per cent.
Private school managements are unfazed at the huge enrollment from private schools into government schools.
A private school owner at Madurai told IANS that the parents had to shift their children to government schools as they did not have any option.
However, several parents are now contemplating to bring their children back to private schools. The reason is mainly the lack of infrastructure as well as shortage of staff.
Educationists are of the opinion that students continuing in government schools of Tamil Nadu are to benefit well as the government has now introduced a 7.5 per cent horizontal reservation in professional courses for students from Tamil Nadu government 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. 7000 crore is allocated to develop the school infrastructure under the Perasiriyar Anbhazhagan School development scheme.
The government school teachers are of the opinion that more and more students will join the government schools if the government meets the immediate infrastructure requirements, including proper seating facilities for children.