Friday, October 11, 2013

Teacher-Student ratio in Chennai Corporation schools and the medium of instruction

I visited couple of Chennai [corporation] schools this week and have been to quite a few of them in the last year. The enrollment has come down drastically. The High school in Royapettah [Lloyds Road] had only around 200 students or so and the HM said once they used to get upwards of 600-700 students. In the Thousand Lights Middle School, the total number of students in 3rd/4th/5th together came only to 25. Accounting for those students who were absent, it seems like the strength is around 10 per class. In the Triplicane Middle School, 6th/7th/8th total came to 70. That is around 25 per class.

Given that the teacher-student ratio is fantastic - does it result in better outcome in these schools? There seemed to be enough teachers - at least one per class in the schools I visited.

Alternately, where are the kids who should be enrolled in these schools? They have all been pushed to low quality, English medium schools which have by and large bad teachers who are paid probably 3,000 or 4,000 Rs a month. The students are forced to pay probably around Rs 500 a month as fee. With that sort of fee, these schools can't be all that rich. Their infrastructure has to be poor; they probably do not have a playground. On the other hand the Chennai [corporation] schools had reasonable space around, fairly decent flooring, decent furniture, purified water cans, working fans etc.

I have a radical suggestion:

* Suppose we make all the Corporation Schools English medium only [just a renaming - call them Chennai Corporation English Medium Only Schools].
* Charge every student at least Rs. 100 a month.
* Force the students to wear ties and shoes and spanking new uniforms that the parents are forced to buy.

My feeling is, the enrollment will go up significantly - to the level of at least 50 students per class. Use the funds to spruce up the buildings.

This will have two advantages. The parents will now start demanding better quality teaching from the teachers, since now they are paying customers. The low quality local schools will be forced to close down.

The only downside to this whole thing is "English Medium". This will be vehemently opposed to by the Tamil fringe. [I am myself in favour of teaching most/all the kids in Tamil and hence I belong to this fringe, before you jump up!] Ignore the fringe [including me].

Will the Chennai [corporation] school teachers be up to the mark in teaching in English? My contention is, they can't be worse than the roadside low quality English school teachers anyway. These are better paid, D.T.Ed/B.Ed trained teachers anyway.

At least you will save the public schooling system and save most parents from paying 500 Rs or more per month for lower quality education. We can think about how to revive Tamil, and how to improve the quality of education later.


  1. I would suggest teaching science & Maths in English and the rest of the subj in Tamizh. Point is.. for the time being since we do not have enough course materials for technical education in Tamizh we should go ahead with this..

  2. Dear Mr Badri
    Lot of Corpn. Schools are slowly being closed. In mylapore and mandaveli it self i have seen two schools are closed. Main point here is teachers are not questioned for poor performance of the students. None of the local corporates(MLCs) question HM. You cannot ask teachers any question in all Govt Schools. Atleast in Chennai there are some alternative, in rural areas things are horrible.

    1. You are right. For good governance, we can make performance based incentive to teachers.

  3. one more option is there- Reservation system.
    Students who studied In Govt schools will be given preference or % or 10 additional marks in cut-off on medical, engineering, CA, BL courses.

  4. //I would suggest teaching science & Maths in English and the rest of the subj in Tamizh. Point is.. for the time being since we do not have enough course materials for technical education in Tamizh we should go ahead with this../??
    Totally Agreed

  5. //
    Main point here is teachers are not questioned for poor performance of the students

    Because they cannot question the students !

    If they question students will not come

  6. அன்பின் பத்ரி....

    என் தந்தை தமிழக அரசில் அதிகாரியாக பணியாற்றிவந்த போது பணிமாற்றல் காரணமாக காஞ்சியிலிருந்து சென்னை வரவேண்டியதாயிற்று.புதியமாணவர்கள் சேர்க்கை முடிந்துவிட்ட ஆடி மாசம் .என்பதால் எந்த தனியார் பள்ளியிலும் இடம் கிடைக்கவில்லை

    என்னையும் என் சகோதரியையும் அருகில் உள்ள மாநகராட்சி பள்ளியில்(வட சென்னை-மூலகொத்தலம்) சேர்த்தார்...எந்த அடிப்படை வசதியும் கிடையாது..மாணவர்கள் தரையில்தான் உட்கார வேண்டும்.சிலேட் பலகைதான் வகுப்பறையில் கரும் பலகை உடைந்தே இருக்கும்...

    பள்ளிக்குள்ளேயே அருகில் வசிப்போர் தங்களது மாடுகளை கட்டி வைத்திருப்பர்...ஆசிரியைகளிடம் எந்தவித ஆர்வமும் இருக்காது...சுகாதாரம் என்பதே என்னவென்று தெரியாத அளவுக்கு வகுப்பறைகள் இருக்கும்..

    மதிய உணவு(சத்துணவு திட்டத்திற்கு முந்தைய காலகட்டம்) பார்ப்பதற்கே கொடுமையா இருக்கும்...எந்த விளையாட்டு பொருட்களும் இருக்காது..இருந்தாலும் மாணவர்களுக்கு கொடுக்கமாட்டார்கள்..

    நான் படித்த அந்த வருடம் எந்த விழாவும் நடத்தப்பட்டதாக எனக்கு நினைவில்லை..(சுதந்திர தினம் மற்றும் குடியரசு தினம் தவிர).

    ஆனால் இன்றோ அதற்கு நேர்மாறான சூழ்நிலை ..இருப்பினும் மாணவர்கள் சேர்க்கை ஏன் இப்படி?

    May be corporations schools needs better branding..Some promos in tamil tv channels etc.

  7. I am student of Govt School in Chennai i am comfortable with my education here, is it possible to migrate my education to international schools and what type of syllabus following in International schools like Akshar Arbol International School in Chennai

  8. very practical suggestion...

    Long time back, Cho had suggested that even in Tamil medium, words like Oxygen, CarbonDiOxide etc not be translated. How about a hybrid medium ? Conversations are done in Tamil/English mix but written part is in English. The grammar , spelling etc are not fussed about in Science, History etc.

  9. It is important to see why there is a drop in the enrollment.
    Quality of learning is extremely important and today I think most parents realize that and want their children to go to schools which deliver on that. Setting essential learning goals for each class where these goals are focused on, measured and remedial support provided so that these learning goals are achieved by all children is what is lacking in these schools today.
    Providing tie, shoe and socks and making it English medium will attract them initially but unless a focus on learning outcomes is not ensured there is bound to be migration. Unfortunately the so called better quality private schools are not delivering in quality either.

  10. Hello,
    Education Department, Corporation of Chennai which was started with 40 primary schools in the year 1912.List of primary and secondary school in ChennaiAll Corporation schools follow The Tamil Nadu State Board syllabus. Co - curricular activities such as Sports, Scouts & Guides, N.C.C., N.S.S., J.R.C., have been introduced with a view to produce all round personality development among students.